London and the Continent, 1812–19
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter continues to draw upon the Chinnery Family Papers, especially the extensive correspondence between Viotti and members of the Chinnery family. Viotti's role as a founding member, director, and performer in the Philharmonic Society in London in 1813–16, and his involvement in an abortive attempt to form a rival association, including the establishment of a Royal Academy of Music, are considered at length. Due consideration is given to his continued participation in private concerts in the Chinnery home and elsewhere in London, his yearly visits to the Continent, usually to Paris, with Margaret Chinnery in the years 1814–18, his involvement in the wine business, his dealings with music publishers, and his pupils, including Philippe Libon, Nicolas Mori, and André Robberechts.
For more than a year after the death of her daughter, Margaret declined to visit or receive guests, though she undertook a protracted legal battle to establish her right to a claim to Gillwell, having inherited it from her father. Since, by law, ownership had passed to her husband, her suit was unsuccessful. Viotti and George, who by now, despite his father's disgrace, had obtained a place in the Treasury office, began to attend various social functions. One of the most memorable was a fête given by Sophia Johnstone on the evening of 4 August 1812, at which the Prince Regent was present. In his letter to William the next day Viotti gives a wonderfully vivid, moment by moment, almost cinematic description: he and George station themselves one on either side of the door, the regent enters, and addresses Viotti, “in a low voice—Bonsoir Viotti, but with the most gracious expression possible,” then goes into the music room, and sits on a sofa beside the fireplace near the piano. The performance of vocal music is interrupted by the reading of letters from “Lord Willington” announcing “our brilliant success in Spain and the victorious battle.” Wellington had inflicted a crushing defeat on the French in the Battle of Salamanca, 22 July. Viotti's “our” is no more than might be expected from one of His Majesty's loyal subjects. During the reading, Viotti and George “creep into the right‐hand corner of this second room, from where we can see, hear and be seen. God Save the King is sung (atrociously, by the way, by Bertinotti and Tramezani),” 1 after which Miss Johnstone tells Viotti that the prince wishes to hear him play, “adding, you can imagine, all the compliments that she knows how to make. I leave my companion, I go over to the little room where my violin was.” Returning, he is accosted by the prince, who notices “the young Chinnery,” asks about “the poor (p. 271 ) Mrs Chinnery,” speaks of Caroline, and remembers fondly the lovely evenings at Brighton: “In the meantime it is my turn—I take my violin—the best of all Princes sat down on a chair near the sofa […] where Lady Castlereagh and Lady Cholmondeley were seated. From there he asks me all sorts of questions with an inexpressible kindness while I tuned with Vacari 2 and while I prepared the music. Dear Caroline was again the subject of conversation. I play, and it seemed to me that I had the good fortune to please him. My Duo having finished, he did me the honor of calling me back,” this time to inquire about William and George. Viotti takes the opportunity to put in a good word for them both, even reminding the prince pointedly that George's ability in “the four modern languages” should qualify him for a post in the diplomatic corps. Then the singers sing a duo, “Mia Sorella,” Viotti withdraws, but “this amiable and magnanimous Prince” does not let him out of his sight, and “gave me to understand how fine he thought the music was &c” (me faisait des signes sûr la bonté de la musique). After the duo the prince left. All in all, thought Viotti, the evening was “splendid.” 3
It would seem that on this occasion George and Viotti narrowly missed meeting Lord Byron, who attended a party given by “Miss Johnson” (recte “Johnstone”?) only a few weeks earlier, at which the Prince Regent was also present. 4 Viotti and the Chinnerys had a number of friends in common with Byron. Thomas Moore and Samuel Rogers were both his boon companions; the three poets met on 11 November 1811 at Rogers's home. Moore later became Byron's biographer. 5 In 1813, Viotti and Byron both saw Madame de Staël often in society, but never, it would appear, at the same time. In a way it seems extraordinary that Viotti and the Chinnerys never met Byron; perhaps it was because Byron had “joined in the general vilification” of the Prince Regent in 1812. 6 On the other hand, Moore's satirical verse against the regent, some of it ferocious, at around the same time, does not seem to have impaired his friendship with Viotti or the Chinnerys. The deciding factor may have been Byron's relationship with his half‐sister, Augusta, which by 1813 was being noticed.
In Sweden, William entered society and it was not long before he asked Viotti to send his cello. Viotti struggled with this task—“special permission for the export, proofs that the duties have been paid, and a myriad other formalities causing endless difficulties.” He prepared a box of provisions to send to William, including wigs, pomades, cheese and macaroni, in which there will be some music, he writes, but no instrument on which to play it. 7 He eventually managed to send this instrument, which apparently was an Amati cello, for in a later letter Viotti tells William that it has been returned, and that he will attempt to send a “mediocre” one. 8
This letter is full of news about music and musicians. Viotti mentions “the famous bassoonist” Karl Bärmann, who had been recommended to him. He says that he enjoyed William's last letter “about my pretended pupils.” William had met Madame Gerbini in Gothenburg, and was full of praise for her. Viotti (p. 272 ) replies, giving no hint that it had been he who had sponsored her and who almost certainly was the inspirer of the pasticcio featuring her singing and her playing of his Concerto no. 3 in the Théâtre de Monsieur twenty‐two years earlier:
Mad.me Gerbini is a pupil of Pugnani. I heard her for the first time in Paris. I thought that she played very well, that she had a masculine nerve and that she drew a very fine sound [très bon son] from an excellent Stradivarius. I don't know if she has kept this instrument. She performed in London some time ago and as I recall did not make a big impression, since she appeared as a singer and was only so‐so. 9 You seemed pleased with her looks! Can it be that she has become passable? I always thought her as ugly as sin. She traveled at that time with her father; now you say that the father has become a brother. Good for him but I never knew him. May Heaven preserve my compatriot, and may she earn much [success] Prix‐Dalers [?]. 10
Viotti is concerned that the music he had sent in the box had not arrived, the more so since a letter (concerning business, Viotti thinks) from Charles Smith had been enclosed in the first violin part of the quartets dedicated to Phillipe C[ipriani]. 11 He is unable, he informs William, to send his quartets printed in Paris, as he does not have them to hand. Another errand that Viotti has undertaken for William involved obtaining advantageous terms for two of William's acquaintances from the piano manufacturer Broadwood. But Viotti fears that he will have difficulties. “The thirty‐three per cent discount that they are seeking is not even given to dealers or professors like himself. The other obstacle is that old Mr Broadwood having just died, Viotti will be obliged to treat with his sons, whom he does not know so well.” 12
Viotti next turns to some very exciting news: the other day he played through his new quartets with Francesco Vaccari and the two Schram brothers: 13
If I were not the composer, I would say that they are really charming—even more than that, but the modesty of your Jean Baptiste must impose silence upon him. You have no idea how these gentlemen were pleased with them. I'm going to make a copy of them for Erard—it's a present I wish to give to his nephews, and you know how long it takes to do all that copying. When everything is ready I will see to selling them here to be engraved, and dedicated to the good Duke, who has not yet heard them. I wanted to have a session behind closed doors, and so that the musical racket would not bother the Padrona, all four of us went to Lord Dunmore's, who was in Scotland and told me that I could use his house when I wished. 14
As Denise Yim has pointed out, Viotti must have changed his mind about the dedication of these works, as none of his quartets is dedicated to the Duke of (p. 273 ) Cambridge. 15 These quartets are the set of three he dedicated to his half‐brother André, WII:13–15, not published until 1817. Indeed, it was not long after this trial play‐through that Viotti received a letter from André with the news that he had been named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. André, now in the Grenadiers des Gardes de Paris, wrote in January 1813 that “His Excellency M. de Lacepede, Grand Chancellor, decorated me with his own hand, telling me that he was delighted to confer personally this mark of distinction upon the brother of the celebrated____.” 16 The certificate in his Legion of Honor dossier, 17 signed by Comte Bernard de Lacépède, indicates that André was named Chevalier on 25 December 1812, and, according to his letter, the presentation ceremony took place on New Year's day.
This is one of the few times that Viotti refers to his compositions, and very revealing it is, for these three quartets are indeed more than merely charming. Viotti adopts for the first time the Haydn model, with its four‐movement structure (including a minuet as the second or third movement), infusing it with an Italianate melodiousness, and adding one or two striking features of his own, including cadenzas for the first and second violins and the cello in the first movement of the second quartet of the set. They also display an increased mastery of, or at least a stronger tendency toward, the Haydnesque, or Viennese string quartet style. Rather than each instrument taking the lead in turn, as in his Parisian quartets, there is more of a constant interplay among the four instruments, more exchange of the musical materials; in other words, there is what one might call a greater intensity of texture.
Sometime in the late summer or autumn of 1812, 18 the evicted Gillwell residents (Margaret, Viotti, George, Matilda, and little Margaret Chinnery) moved to 10 Charles Street, Manchester Square. 19 Here they remained until 1817. Viotti often complained about it being too small—“this ugly hole, stuffed with furniture” (that had been retrieved from the auction), with not enough room for his “Quartett, or a Grand Piano‐forte supposing we had one.” 20
The Philharmonic Society (1813, 1814)
Early in 1813, Viotti participated in an event of capital importance for the musical life of London. The Philharmonic Society was founded by a group of thirty “Members,” most of them from the cream of London's singers and instrumentalists, including Viotti and several of his friends and colleagues, such as the pianists Muzio Clementi, Johann B. Cramer (a son of Wilhelm Cramer), and Ludwig Berger; the violinists Johann Salomon, Feliks Janiewicz, come from Edinburgh, Franz Cramer ( Johann's brother), and Paolo Spagnoletti; the cellist Charles Jane Ashley, and the flautist Andrew Ashe; all of whom “had at one time or another graced the Chinnery drawing room.” 21 One of the nonmusician founding Members, and its first secretary, was Henry Dance, who later (p. 274 ) was Viotti's lawyer in connection with his wine business. Their goal was to fill the gap caused by the absence of a concert series of the eminence of Salomon's concerts and the Professional Concert of recent memory, and the resultant decline, as they saw it, of public taste in music. The Duke of Cambridge wrote to Viotti requesting that he be put on the list of subscribers, confidant that “this Society will succeed in re‐establishing the taste for Instrumental Music that unfortunately has fallen into decadence in this country.” 22
Eight annual concerts were planned, to be held on Monday evenings in the Argyll Rooms on Regent Street. The “Members” and the twenty‐five “Associates” (including Nicolas Mori, Vaccari, and Giuseppe Naldi, soon to be joined by George Bridgetower), 23 who formed the nucleus of the orchestra and the vocal forces, were not to be remunerated for their participation; on the contrary, they were each to pay an annual subscription of 3 guineas. No concertos, solos, or duets were to be permitted—an attempt to eliminate the threat both of elitism among the performers, and, presumably, the taint of whistling and tricks in the repertory.
Viotti, whatever he thought of these policies, joined in with a will, at least at the beginning. He signed the list of founding Members on 6 February 1813, but did not attend the first meeting, held on 24 January, no doubt because on the same day he had a meeting with Margaret Chinnery and an unidentified friend to whom he had written concerning Margaret's last, desperate attempts to retain Gillwell, or at least, as Viotti put it, “to strike a good bargain.” Viotti refers to “the crisis approaching,” and enjoins his friend “to fight as hard as possible for our rights and to prevent our Friend from being deprived.” 24 However, on 8 April 1813, Gillwell—the house and the land—were sold at auction. Two copies of the sale catalogue have come down to us, one with lists of figures and the names of purchasers in ink in the margins in Viotti's hand, the other with notes in Margaret's hand. 25 This means either that they both attended the auction, or, since it may have been too painful for Margaret to witness the loss of her beloved property, she may have made her annotations from Viotti's copy. 26
Viotti presumably played in all eight concerts of the first Philharmonic Society season (the more eminent violinists, including Viotti, Salomon, F. Cramer, Janiewicz, Vaccari, and Spagnoletti, took turns leading at the concerts. Otherwise they played in the section, whether in the first or second violins has not been revealed—indicative, at any rate, of the altruistic ideals of the Society). Margaret wrote to William on the morning of 8 March, the day of the first concert, that “I have just had my walk in the Square with Amico, dearest Chinnery, in Portman Square, which is something like a garden, but where the most delightful perfections of a garden are wanting—privacy and quiet.” That evening she continued: “Monday evening, 1/2 past nine—Amico's gone to the first Philharmonic.”
In the fifth concert, on 17 May, Viotti was leader of the orchestra and played one of his quartets. The program is given below. It was the first time in fifteen years that a public audience had heard him play: (p. 275 )
Mrs. Moralt, C. Evans, Ledesma, C. Smith
Quartet for two violins, viola and violoncello
Viotti, Vaccari, Spagnoletti, Crouch
Overture for double orchestra
[J. C.] Bach
Quartet, “Caro da voi”
Mrs. Moralt, Ledesma, C. Smith, Naldi
Quartet for two violins, viola and violoncello
Spagnoletti, Mori, Vaccari, C. Neate
Overture, Iphigenia in Aulide
Leader, Mr. Viotti. Pianoforte, Mr. Clementi
Two of Viotti's warhorses from Opera Concert days have been put on the program: the Cherubini vocal quartet and the Gluck overture. 27 It is perhaps worth mentioning that, except, of course, for the pianist and the cellists, the members of the orchestra almost certainly stood to play. In 1820 Ludwig Spohr referred to the members of the orchestra standing; 28 there is no reason to suppose that this practice had changed since 1813.
The quartet by Viotti was surely one of the three, still in manuscript, that he had played through the year before with Vaccari and the Schrams. It is significant that, in the 1790s, Viotti had not permitted any of his string quartets to be played at a public concert. Perhaps he feared comparison with the more intricate and rigorous style of Haydn's quartets, or with the brilliant and popular quartets of Ignace Pleyel, to which the London public had grown accustomed. But now, in 1813, so confident is he of his new works in the genre that he does not shirk from placing one of them alongside a quartet by Beethoven.
Of his other colleagues in this performance of his quartet, Paolo Spagnoletti (1768–1834) had been brought to London about 1802 by Viotti's old friend, the tenor Viganoni, had risen in the ranks in the King's Theatre and various other orchestras, and, almost from the outset, established himself as one of the leading violinists of the Philharmonic Society, both as a chamber music player and as leader. The cellist Frederick William Crouch (ca. 1783–1844) (not the husband of the singer Mrs. Crouch) later wrote a treatise on the cello (1826). Margaret Chinnery did not attend this concert, but her letter to her husband that very evening conveys her excitement at the event:
I have kept my Packet open till now, 10 minutes past midnight,—and Amico is not yet returned,—I therefore conclude that a great deal has been encored! You must wait till the next Post‐day for particulars.(p. 276 )
1/2 past 12—Here he is! Nothing can be imagined more brilliant! Amico was caressed, & complimented by almost every individual,—the concert went off to admiration, & it was with difficulty that every one of the pieces was not encored. The Duke sent for Amico between the acts, & said that the Regent fully intended to come, & that if he did, Amico must repeat his Quartett. However he was prevented from coming, which I regret, for as he has never yet heard these it would have been a pretty compliment to Amico—
All the Boxes were filled and every subscriber there before the premier coup d'archet,—the professors are all enchanted,—in short his success was so compleat as we could wish! 29
Mori, who took the second violin part in the Beethoven string quartet, was now sixteen or seventeen years old, and apparently still Viotti's pupil. He became one of the more prominent chamber music performers in the Philharmonic concerts, and, beginning in 1816, one of the regular leaders. By 1813 the first eleven of Beethoven's quartets had been published. We cannot know which quartet it was that Mori played, but it seems likely, given his youth, that he would have been coached in his preparation of this work by Viotti. This brings us to the larger question of Viotti's response to Beethoven's music. Beethoven's works, both the symphonies and the chamber works, were programmed with increasing frequency by the Philharmonic Society. Already in 1813 two symphonies, five chamber works, and music from Prometheus were played. In 1814 the music of Beethoven was played in five out of the eight concerts, in 1815 in four out of the eight, and beginning in 1816 there was scarcely a concert without a piece by Beethoven. Viotti, though he would have played the orchestral works as a section member, did not participate in any performance of a Beethoven chamber work, nor did he again include any work by Beethoven when he was leader (once in 1814, and twice in 1815). It would be hazardous to draw conclusions from these scanty data, except to say that Viotti was not conspicuously a champion of Beethoven's music, nor, for that matter, of the music of other composers in general, except, of course, for Boccherini's.
This would not have been for lack of exposure. Viotti's friend G. B. Cimador (1761–1805), the Venetian composer, singer, violinist, violist, and music publisher, was an admirer of Haydn's quartets and of Mozart's “Haydn” quartets 30 and other works by Mozart. Beginning in about 1800, he published a great many of Mozart's works in London, including several of the symphonies, which he popularized in England with his arrangements for flute and strings. At his benefit concert, 18 May 1803, in the Great Room at the King's Theatre, there had taken place what was apparently the first performance in England of a symphony by Beethoven (which must have been no. 1). In 1810 and 1811, Feliks Janiewicz had given chamber music concerts in his London home that included works by Mozart and Beethoven (as well as Haydn and Boccherini). It is possible that Viotti attended some of these events. 31
(p. 277 ) We may wonder how much of their enthusiasm for the works of Mozart and Beethoven musicians such as Cimador (as well as his friend, Gaetano Bartolozzi) and Janiewicz succeeded in conveying to Viotti. Viotti's attitude to this music is not recorded, though he heard piano pieces by both composers at Margaret Chinnery's and her friends' concerts, and he had programmed and led a symphony by Mozart in 1798 and was to do so again in 1814, as well as lead the Marriage of Figaro overture in 1815. There is no record, in fact, of Viotti playing any solo or chamber music other than his own and Boccherini's, in public performances in Paris and London, with two exceptions: his performances of a violin obbligato to an aria of Pugnani's in two of Salomon's concerts in 1793, and his performances of Guglielmi's obbligato solo in the King's Theatre in 1798. In private concerts he surely was more eclectic. It is safe to assume that he took part in performances of much of the music in the Gillwell music library: Bréval's duets, Corelli's trio sonatas, Haydn's string quartets, and, no doubt, the chamber works of other composers. Perhaps Cimador managed to persuade Viotti to play through Mozart's six “Haydn” quartets, or even a string quartet by Beethoven, with him at the Chinnerys'. The third movement of the first of the three quartets that Viotti later dedicated to his half‐brother, a set of variations, Andante, in B‐flat major, breathes the same air as the Allegretto con variazioni movement, in E‐flat major, of Beethoven's Quartet op. 74 (composed in 1809, published in London in 1810), especially the loud, bustling variation with a prominent first violin (more heroic, perhaps, in the Beethoven work), which, in both cases, comes immediately after a quiet, contemplative variation.
In the midst of these Philharmonic concerts, and indeed, throughout this period of his career, Viotti had other professional concerns, chiefly seeing to the wine business and negotiating with his various publishers about his works, which were constantly being brought out not only in their original versions but also in various arrangements. One such letter, to “Mr. Collard,” a partner in Clementi's publishing firm, is in Viotti's hand, in English, and therefore probably dictated or translated by Margaret, though the sentiments are vintage Viotti:
Since there seems to be only one sonata, the work in question is almost certainly that for harp dedicated to Lady Dunmore. Viotti's letter appears to have had (p. 278 ) the desired effect, for the sonata was registered by Clementi and Co. in Stationers' Hall on 9 April 1811.
Sunday 24th March 1811
After waiting so long for the first Proofs of the Sonata, & then to receive only a part of the first movement most incorrectly engraved, I cannot express my mortification in terms sufficiently strong—Perhaps you did not think it worth your while to print it for me, & if you had told me so at once I would not have troubled you, but had it printed somewhere else.
As it is now begun it must be finished, & I shall expect the w[h]ole of the first Proofs on Tuesday next without fail, that I may correct the remainder. 32
Another letter, to an unidentified publisher, is equally acerbic—writing it would not have contributed to Viotti's festive mood on his fifty‐eighth birthday. It shows that, even for a composer as popular as Viotti, getting published in the early nineteenth century was a precarious business:
Viotti's spelling has deteriorated—perhaps Margaret did not have time to proofread. Eva Badura‐Skoda, who uncovered this letter, conjectures that it was addressed to the publisher Pearce, of Pearce and Company, which had taken over from the original Corri and Dussek, the publishers of Jan Ladislav Dussek's arrangement as a piano concerto of Viotti's Concerto no. 23 in 1794–95. But Clementi and Company began publishing this work, ca. 1802–10, probably from Corri and Dussek's plates, and so it may well have been Collard again to whom this letter was addressed. The pirating of this work by a publisher in Ireland is entirely typical of the problems faced by composers in Viotti's time, when the notion of copyright was still rudimentary by today's standards. The work for which Viotti asks the return of the plates cannot be identified, and at the same time raises the question of whether it was ever published. One wonders whether the plates eventually came into the hands of another publisher, or were destroyed.
May 12, 1813
I am extremely sorry that you should have hade [sic] the trouble of writing so long and explanatory a letter on a subject which it appears to me so little deserving of it!—You are of opinion that the said work would not succed [sic]. That is a sufficient reason for my withdrawing it. Be so good therefore to return me my manuscript, and also when you are at leisure, the account of the Plaits [ plates] alrady [sic] engraved in order that I may know what I am to pay for my bad jugement [sic].
Did you take the trouble of impleing [employing] Leagal [sic] means to prevent the printing of the Concerto in G [no. 23] in Ireland? Should this not yet have taken place, pray let it be done without further delay, for we should both be equaly [sic] be Losers by this Species of robbery. 33
At around the same time, Viotti used his influence to open a door for Francesco Vaccari, as shown in a note (in French) he wrote to George Spencer, William Spencer's cousin, and son and heir of the fourth Duke of Marlborough. Viotti had taken the trouble to go to the future fifth duke's mansion in its celebrated grounds, Whiteknights Park, near the town of Reading, in Berkshire:
21 April 1813
I have taken the liberty of coming to your home to have the honor of informing you that the Duke of Marlborouhg [sic] has (p. 279 ) had the goodness to allow Mr Vaccari a room in his house for his concert.
As an enlightened amateur, and excellent yourself in his art, I have no doubt that you will be pleased that this skillful and good man owes this favor to your illustrious family.
He lacks but one remaining favor, which is that he be honored by your presence on the day of his concert; without doubt his gratitude would then know no bounds.
I have the honor to be with the greatest respect Milord,
Your very humble, very obedient servant
J. B. Viotti 34
After sixteen months of a reclusive life, Margaret Chinnery finally permitted herself an evening of music with an invited guest. Mr. Peterson, an amateur violinist who had met William Chinnery in Gothenburg, came to dinner on 16 July 1813. Viotti's business partner Charles Smith was also present. Mr. Peterson saw Caroline's harp in the drawing room and desired to hear it, whereupon
By this time it is apparent that Matilda is in some ways beginning to take the place of Caroline, not only as a musical participant, for she clearly had become an accomplished pianist, but also in Margaret's affections. When she left England in 1821 to be married in India, Margaret was bereft.
Amico made [ little] Margaret play a sonata Caroline had taught her, and he accompanied it. M. Peterson asked for something else, and heard the variations on the Folies d'Espagne. Then Amico proposed playing a Duett with him,—which after some compliments & excuses, was done, and very well done for an amateur. They played two of those dedicated to us. I then proposed Amico's letting M. Peterson hear him alone,—he complied, and played the famous Menuet of Pugnani, and afterwards a Polacca. To conclude, Matilda played the new Concerto just arranged by J. Cramer, accompanied by Amico & M. Peterson. 35
In the same letter, Margaret tells of her visit to the studio of the extremely popular society painter, Thomas Lawrence, soon to be knighted by the Prince Regent, who became his most important patron. George accompanied her, as Viotti had gone to breakfast at Chiswick House, a seat of the Duke of Devonshire's, William Spencer's relative. The purpose of the visit was to see Lawrence's portrait of Caroline, which he had apparently been commissioned to do:
Lawrence had scarcely touched it since we were there before,—I felt disappointed, and my hopes flagged,—we sat down & he continued, asking us a variety of questions about it,—he again said he is sure of succeeding, that he remembers her perfectly, and that he stood very close to her, examining her features for more than ten minutes, and (p. 280 ) afterwards described her to a friend, which engraved them the more strongly on his mind. […] in about half an hour Guglielmo came in, which was very kind of him,—he looked for a long time at Cosway's drawing until his eyes were full of tears [there was talk of poetry, Mme de Staël, the fête at Vauxhall, etc.]. At last we all got up to look at the portrait, when we were one and all struck with astonishment & admiration!!! You cannot imagine a more perfect resemblance,—and with her usual look, not the peculiar look with the eyes half closed as in Cosway's drawing!—I never had thought such a thing possible,—God grant he may not spoil it in the finishing,—I wanted him to leave it just as it was,—but he would not hear of such a thing,—he means to rub it all out, he says, nearly,—but he assures us we shall see it again just as like and more so, as he proceeds!—I dare not hope that he will be able to keep his word,—I wish to Heavens I had snatched up the unfinished head, yesterday, and run away with it! 36
In January 1814 Viotti attended a soirée given for a group of musical amateurs by William Curtis, whose father, Sir William Curtis, was a member of Parliament, former Lord Mayor of London, and a close friend of the Prince Regent. After dinner, reported Viotti to William, it was time for the tra la la (la lululu), with the first strike of the bow ( premier coup d'archet) at eight o'clock:
The old father, Sir William [he was only three years older than Viotti] was there, and though not much of a musician he seemed to play very well. […] To tell the truth I was very pleased with all these Amateurs, they each played their part very well and the master of the house acquitted himself very well on the cello. “What the devil possessed you to go there,” says you? The hope to drum up some business for C.[harles] S.[mith] & V.—if I don't succeed, patience. 37
It is clear that Viotti was not averse to playing with amateurs, and not only in his own house, nor was he elitist about the music he played. Thomas Moore records an occasion at the home of William Sotheby, an independently wealthy poet and translator. Sotheby and his wife and children lived near Gillwell, and they were close friends of the Chinnerys. Moore nicknamed him Botherby on account of his fidgety, blustering ways:
Sotheby, the Poet, ( poor Botherby!) once invited the Channings [Chinnerys] and Viotti [this would have been before 1812] to his house at Epping Forest, and begged of Viotti (whose little solos are the most touching & romantic things possible) to bring his Violin—The latter good‐naturedly promised he would &, on his arrival, Botherby, the barbarian, exclaimed, “I am glad you are come—you've brought your fiddle, I hope—now, girls—where are your partners?—stand up—here's Mr. Viotti—what dance will you have?”—Viotti, to the immortal credit of his good‐nature, played country‐dances for them the whole night. 38
(p. 281 ) However, he was capable of drawing the line. He tells William that “I would like to help Mr. Peterson in his scraper's parties [ses parties Racleuses], but he seems to want to make of me a kind of exhibition, and to tell the truth we are not that close for me to make such a sacrifice for him.” 39
By early in 1814 Margaret had begun to resume her elegant parties in Charles Street, along the same lines as at Gillwell, except that there was less room, which restricted the number of guests. Among those who were frequent callers were Viotti's old émigré friends, the Comte de Vaudreuil and his wife and son, who came to dinner in March, and Colonel Dillon, almost certainly Edward Dillon, whom Viotti presumably had known in Paris. 40
Some of the concerts in the Charles Street house and at the homes of friends were reported in Matilda's journal, which she kept in March–April 1814. On 29 March, at a soirée at the home of Mrs. Smyth, an amateur pianist and a close friend of Margaret's, “Harriet Smyth [ Mrs. Smyth's daughter] played uncommonly well (in Cramer's Stile) some Variations of Beethoven” and “Amico's Concerto finished the whole—it did not go off as coulament [smoothly] & brilliantly as I could have wished!” 41 If this last refers to Viotti playing one of his concertos, and not to an arrangement for piano played by one of the three pianists present, then he was probably accompanied by Matilda, in which case her dissatisfaction may have been with her own playing rather than Viotti's.
On Monday, 4 April, Margaret gave a dinner, after which, Matilda wrote, “[little] Margaret & myself played Dussek's Duet,—the Anacreon,—Mrs Smyth played a sonata of Mozart's, & Amico played two little pieces accompanied by me—there was waltzing afterwards.” 42 The overture to Anacreon, by Luigi Cherubini, had been performed a week earlier at the Philharmonic Society concert led by Viotti. The orchestral score had been published in 1803 by Cherubini's publishing company, and no doubt an arrangement for piano duet had been published. 43 If not, given their thorough training by Margaret and Bianchi, the two girls (they were now about sixteen or seventeen years old) could have managed from the full score. Matilda is no more forthcoming about the identities of musical works than Margaret is—Viotti's two little pieces could be just about anything. Of course, it would be too much to expect her to have recorded which of the ladies Viotti waltzed with, or how well he himself waltzed, although she is quite free with her judgements at other times.
A week later, at another of Margaret's dinners, “the Anacreon opened the concert,—Margaret's March followed [that is, little Margaret played a march], & Mrs Smyth played a sonata of Amico's” (almost certainly accompanied by Viotti). Then Miss Smyth danced a pair of traditional national dances, and waltzed with George, with Mrs. Smyth at the piano. 44
In the meantime, Viotti's quiet life of domestic music making and social calls had been jarred, as had all London high society, by the arrival of the formidable Madame de Staël. Notorious for her affairs, admired for her literary works, (p. 282 ) exiled by Napoleon for her political views, she had come to England with her daughter Albertine and her (secret) husband Albert de Rocca, and was lionized by English society in the 1813 season. Everyone talked about her. Lord Byron met her in June, called her “Mrs Stale,” who “writes octavos and talks folios.” 45 But he admired her works and kept on seeing her in society. Thomas Moore was flattered that she expressed a liking for his poetry. He and Samuel Rogers often dined with her. It was at the end of June 1813 that she and Viotti renewed their acquaintance. Viotti had left a card for her, and two hours later she replied: “How can Monsieur Viotti suppose that Mde de Staël has not kept a profound memory of his admirable talent. She is extremely desirous of seeing him again, and no one will receive him more eagerly than she.” 46
Viotti copied this message verbatim in his next letter to William, adding, “Isn't that very nice? Tomorrow I'm going to see the Phoenix, and I hope that her wit doesn't make me look too stupid.” 47 Viotti clearly was well enough acquainted with Madame de Staël to know that she was, as Lord Byron said, “frightful as a precipice.” Nevertheless, it was not long before Viotti was seeing her in society. Lord Glenbervie records in his diary that on 4 July he dined at the home of William Spencer and his wife in Curzon Street, in the company of Madame de Staël, “Viotti, with young Chinnery,” and several others. 48
For the summer of 1813 Margaret and Viotti had taken a cottage in Fulham (“Bell's Cottage, North‐End, Fulham”), on the southwest edge of London. Margaret wrote to William on a sunny August morning:
I am writing to you in a room that opens onto a nice little flower garden, and hear no other noise, than the hum of flies, and the buzz of insects. But alas!—grief oppresses my heart […]. [The country‐like surroundings make her think of Gillwell and of Caroline.] Amico has unfortunately a slight touch of gout, but he has also a little sort of irruption on his arms and legs, which altogether makes rather an invalid of him. However he rose as usual and came down to make the tea. We breakfasted in the Drawing room, at the Bow‐window, looking into the flower garden […]. There is a magnificent walnut tree, to the great delight of Amico […]. There is a cow in the field on to the left hand side of the garden. Oh how all these objects and the sounds of the country (for it is something like the country) affect me! In a few days I hope the deep impression will be felt less sensibly—indeed for Amico's sake I must exert myself. As for George, I always try to meet him with a smiling countenance—the poor Amico sees the worst as well as the best of me! 49
A week later Margaret describes the greenhouse. “Amico is sitting there, making up the onions into bunches for the winter—over his head the grapes are ripening.” We see that Viotti's passionate reproach to the Prince della (p. 283 ) Cisterna, fifteen years earlier, regretting the life of a peasant, was no mere rhetorical flourish. But this idyllic scene was interrupted by the appearance of Madame de Staël, with William Spencer in tow. She berates Margaret, and especially Viotti, for not having taken a summer residence nearer to her, in Richmond. Margaret suspects that her motives are ulterior—she wants Viotti to be close by to give her daughter violin lessons. “I proposed Amico going to see her at Richmond with his violin, telling her that I regretted that she had not yet, since her arrival in England, enjoyed the pleasure of hearing him. This was agreeable to her, and Tuesday next is fixed, for Amico and George to dine & sleep there.” 50 This, as much as anything in the Chinnery Family Papers, tells us a great deal about Viotti's amenability and his relationship with Margaret—that she could feel at liberty to make this proposal, presumably without having previously consulted him. At any rate, Viotti continued to see Madame de Staël. On 11 September Margaret reports that “today Guglielmo and Amico are gone to dine & and sleep at Mdm de Staël's.” No doubt Viotti again took his violin. They were to return the next day. 51 And Viotti did give violin lessons to Albertine, as her letter to him of 3 October shows: “Don't forget your pupil. When we get settled in town we will be seeing you often, don't you agree? We must hear you a few times to brighten up this nasty fog.” 52 A note from Madame de Staël, probably written in 1814, inviting “caro Viotti” to dinner, assures him that “we shall give back the violin which I am keeping as a pledge that you come.” 53 Would Viotti have left the Buttero in the hands of his imperious friend?
The 1814 season of the Philharmonic Society began on 14 February. It was not long before Madame de Staël made it clear that she expected Viotti to provide her with tickets. 54 The concerts were fully subscribed and tickets were hard to come by. Having been elected one of the seven directors, Viotti had two tickets available for each concert (“billets d'admition,” as he wrote to William), and Margaret and George surely had priority over everyone else. He would have been hard pressed to satisfy all his friends.
The review in the Morning Chronicle of the first concert of the 1814 season said that the “many who well know of the jealousies which so commonly subsist among artists […] were greatly deceived to find rather an augmentation than a diminution of distinguished talent;—they found Salomon, Viotti, Franz Cramer, Vaccari &c in their usual places.” 55 In a way it was remarkable that those musicians, who for most of their careers had been soloists and orchestra leaders, were willing to make common cause as section players, for no remuneration. The rules of the Society stipulated that “there shall not be any distinction of rank in the orchestra, and therefore the station of every performer shall be absolutely determined by the leader of the night.” 56 Beneath the surface, however, Viotti was already showing signs of discontent. In a letter to William of July 1813, he had promised to send all the Philharmonic programs, (p. 284 )
with all the Laws, Regulations, names &c, but surely you have been informed that we are going to change all that if we can! It consists of no less than the establishment of a Royal Academy of Music, and of all forty of us [the Members of the Philharmonic Society] becoming true Esquires, Esquires by right! Won't it be fine to be called Esquire Amico—how I will be puffed up by that! I hope that we will succeed despite the opposition of a few stupid Philharmonics, and that we will have the glory of having raised up and given some substance to a profession which until now has been in the muck [dans la Crotte]. 57
And, in another, probably in February 1814, he writes that “I had really wanted to rid myself of this Directorate, but my wishes have not been granted—it is a pity, for it involves a lot of trouble to please I don't know whom—I hope very much that next year either there will be an Academy, or I'll bid adieu to the Philharmonics.” 58
In these two letters it is clear that Viotti's discontent with the Philharmonic Society was linked to his involvement in a plan to establish a Royal Academy of Music. The Royal Academy of Music, still in existence, was not founded until 1822, but there had been a few earlier attempts, including a “Plan,” drawn up in 1813 by William Ayrton, one of the founders, and the first treasurer of the Philharmonic Society. Ayrton, who often called on the Chinnerys, 59 was the music critic for the Morning Chronicle. He had been trained as a musician, and, later, in 1817 and in 1821, was admired for the high quality of opera production at the King's Theatre under his musical direction. Clementi and Viotti drafted a joint note proposing the adoption of an Abstract of the Plan, which called for the establishment of a Royal Academy of Music under the aegis of the Philharmonic Society. 60 A General Meeting of the Society was held on 24 July 1813 to discuss the Plan, but it is not certain whether the proposal of Clementi and Viotti was voted upon, nor whether it was passed. 61
On 2 July 1813, Viotti had told Ayrton that “it was only after great difficulty that I could persuade Mrs. Chinnery to take pencil in hand to trace a few observations which she made to me in conversation.” 62 These “Observations upon Mr. A's Plan,” twelve pages written by Margaret Chinnery, a copy of which Viotti presumably enclosed, are a point by point discussion of the goals and organization of Ayrton's proposed national institution for the training of musicians, the instructors to be Members of the Philharmonic Society, and the better pupils providing a pool of singers and instrumentalists for its concerts. 63 Margaret probably had Viotti in the back of her mind when, for example, she writes in her critique: “Surely it was an error in the plan of the Philharmonic Society to exclude from their concerts the grand Scene et Arie of Jomelli, Piccini, Sachini, Hope &c&c. The exclusion of Solo instrumental Pieces, is also an error. […] The evils of a vitiated taste in the public […] and the vanity of performers, who upon all occasions are desirous of bringing forward their own compositions” can only be avoided by “a restriction as to the number of (p. 285 ) solo performances upon the different instruments to be allowed each Season” (p. 9). 64 One of Margaret's suggestions is that “all the students should attend on each concert night. Should they not all [be] wanted in the orchestra on each night, they may be taken in turn, and a place on the sides of the orchestra, or seats somewhere contrived [to be] connected with the orchestra should be appointed for those whose services may not be called for” (p. 6). We are reminded that Pugnani, so long ago, may have taken Viotti into the orchestra of the Teatro Regio to listen and learn.
The plan to turn the Philharmonic Society into a Royal Academy of Music was supported by several of the most distinguished Members of the Philharmonic Society, including—besides Aryton, Viotti, and Clementi—Sir George Smart, Salomon, Ashe, C. J. Ashley, Franz Cramer, and Janiewicz (who wrote to Ayrton from Liverpool). The Prince Regent was “pleased to approve the outline of the plan.” 65 Viotti's name, along with Clementi's, had been put forward as two of four proposed superintendents, that is, department directors, Clementi for Composition and Piano, Viotti (and an unidentified other person) for the Instrumental Department. 66 It is clear, however, that there was opposition to the plan from within the Society. Late in July 1813, Viotti tells Ayrton that he had met a “Philharmonic person” in the Chappell music shop who had “maintained to me that the new plan is a Wild Plan” (the last two words in English). Viotti concludes with “Courage! We shall succeed,” and advises Ayrton to burn his letter, advice happily not taken. 67 In November, he wonders if Ayrton wishes to pursue the plan. He has not heard from Salomon or Clementi, but as for himself, “I feel firm and decided, and you can count on finding me just as you left me.” 68 But despite this, and despite Margaret's efforts and the Duke of Cambridge's enthusiasm for the project, 69 nothing came of it.
It is perhaps overinterpreting to attribute it to this setback, but Viotti's interest in the Philharmonic Society from this point on seems tepid, at least in terms of the extent of his participation, both administrative and even musical. Though he had been requested to act as one of the two auditors of the accounts at the General Meeting of 20 May 1814, and though he was reelected a director for 1815, 1816, and 1817, his attendance at the General Meetings was sporadic (only five times out of at least fifteen meetings in 1814, four in 1815, petering out to once each in 1816, 1817, and 1819). 70 His declining health may have been part of the reason. We have learned of the “irruption on his arms and legs” in the summer of 1813. In his letter to Ayrton of 23 November 1813 (Viotti's sixteen surviving letters to Ayrton testify to the closeness of their friendship), Viotti regrets that he will not be able to go to Ayrton's the next day: “[ M ]y Esculape [Aesculapius, the Roman god of medicine; in French, humorous slang for physician] will absolutely not let me go out until this dry and hoarse cough that torments me is sent to the devil.” And there is another, new ailment: “I must submit to my bad murmuring heart” (ma méchante poitrine qui murmure). 71 Early in 1815 he could not attend a Philharmonic meeting because of being “confined by (p. 286 ) illness,” and less than a year later he gave his indifferent health as a reason for wishing to resign as a director. 72
In 1814 Viotti led the orchestra for the fourth concert only, 28 March, and again played one of his own quartets, with Messrs Mori, Moralt, 73 and R. Lindley, 74 as well as a string quintet by his beloved Boccherini, with the same musicians and the cellist C. J. Ashley. Also on the program were two overtures by Cherubini (Anacreon and Faniska); a vocal sextet (“Sacro Pugnal”) by Cherubini; two vocal trios, one by Mozart (“Se al volto” from La Clemenza di Tito) and one by T. Walsh (“Lov'd Scene”); a “Notturno for Wind Instruments” (the Serenade, K. 388) and a symphony, both by Mozart; and a “Grand March” by Haydn to conclude.
Viotti was besieged with requests for tickets for this concert, all carefully noted by Matilda in her journal. On 9 March it was Colonel C. W. Thornton, the Duke of Cumberland's aide‐de‐camp, who called “upon a pretext that he wanted to speak to Amico about the Duke of Cumberland's subscription at the Philharmonic.” On 17 March “Amico has obtained an admission to the Philharmonic Concerts for the Duke of Devonshire, on the plea that having several times lent his Apartments for the repetitions this was due to him.” On 21 March, “[Amico] called upon Miss [ Jane] Porter [the novelist] to give her a ticket for the Philharmonic Concert at which he leads himself.” On 24 March, “just before dinner, Lady [Elizabeth] Spencer sent her Steward to ask Amico to give a ticket to Miss Chattham for Monday, but Amico told him that his tickets were disposed of—however he promised to do all he could to try and obtain one for her.” On the twenty‐sixth, two days before the concert, Madame de Staël went so far as to ask William Spencer to give up his ticket, probably for her husband, Rocca, as she apparently already had tickets for herself and Albertine. 75
On 25 March, three days before the concert, Matilda provides us with a salutary reminder that the received wisdom about concert life in this period—that, for example, there was normally only one rehearsal for the Philharmonic concerts—is not always strictly accurate: “Amico is just going to play over some of the pieces down stairs with five people whom he has appointed—this is only a private repetition.” 76 We may suppose that four of the five were Viotti's string‐playing colleagues in his quartet and in the Boccherini quintet, but who the fifth was is more difficult to imagine. Possibly it was Clementi, the “conductor‐pianist” for the concert, with whom Viotti may have wanted to go over some of the difficult passages from the orchestral works on the program.
On Saturday, 26 March, “Amico's repetition [that is, the full rehearsal] obliged us to dine at 1/2 past five o'clock. […] He left us before 7 o'clock as it was to begin at that hour.” On Sunday, the evening before the concert, Viotti had been cajoled, or bullied, into accepting Madame de Staël's invitation to dinner. “He first tried to get off this invitation under the pretext that he must leave her at dessert on account of his repetition at night. But still she would have him & he went. By ten o'clock however he returned home leaving them at Coffee.” On the (p. 287 ) evening of the concert, the dinner hour was again adjusted: “We dined at 1/2 past 5 o'clock, that Amico might not eat his dinner in a hurry.—At 7 o'clock he took a cup of coffee, and at a 1/4 past 7 o'clock he left us. It has just struck 8 o'clock so I suppose he is beginning.” 77
Matilda's account of the concert is no less vivid for being secondhand:
It would seem that the high ideals of the founding Members of the Philharmonic Society had not penetrated to the chattering ladies—a convincing, if partial insight into early nineteenth‐century concert behaviour. As to Viotti's weak fourth string—one of the greatest violinists who ever lived, whose powerful tone was proverbial, playing on one of the finest of all Stradivari violins—Viotti would have had to be in very bad form indeed. But, as we shall see, Viotti himself had doubts about playing in public after so long an absence.
Towards 10 o'clock on Monday night […] we were surprised by Mr Spencer's arrival. The quartetto was over, & had been divinely played,—he would have staid to hear some more of the music had he not been very much annoyed, first by being in a box with five ladies who would chatter about Mr Kean 78 while the quartetto was going on, & secondly by finding himself afterwards by the side of petty professors, who instead of admiring the divine music, & Amico's incomparable talents, said that he was weak on the 4 th string, and that the applause given to him was unmerited. All this provoked M. Spencer so much that he determined to get away from them. 79
Ayrton's review of the concert in the Morning Chronicle contains a clue as to the identity of the Mozart symphony on the program:
Ayrton is referring most probably to the Symphony no. 40 in G Minor, K. 550, since it is the symphony by Mozart that seems to have received the most attention in Europe in the early nineteenth century. 80
In the first part of the concert, Mozart's beautiful Notturno was performed, and also his favourite symphony [that is, the favorite symphony by Mozart], which amply deserves the high character that it has gained throughout Europe—a character which does not admit of greater exultation [recte exaltation?]. The symphony was exquisitely performed.
Ayrton concludes his review with a remarkable eulogy of Viotti:
Without attempting to offer any comparison of the leaders of this band,—which would be as invidious and difficult as it is unnecessary,—we hope that we may be allowed to express our approbation of the zeal which Mr. Viotti manifests in support of the views of this Society. We particularize this Gentleman, not because we mean to insinuate that he is more zealous than the other Members, nor from any partial feeling—for of that, in our public and critical capacity, we should be ashamed—but because having withdrawn himself, for many years past, (p. 288 ) as a professional performer, he cannot now derive the smallest reward, in any form, from the exertion of his wonderful talent, if we except the delight which a mind like his must feel in exciting emulation, and in contributing to the improvement of an art in which he holds so distinguished a rank as a professor, and has so highly graced as a man. 81
The next day Viotti sent his thanks: “I am sure that the Philharmonic article in yesterday's paper was traced by the hand of friendship, and I cannot refrain, my dear Sir, from thanking you. I had wished that my pen were as brilliant as yours to express my gratitude, but scribbler that I am, I will let you imagine it.” 82
Not long after this concert, Viotti solved the Madame de Staël problem. At a General Meeting of the Society, on 15 April 1814, he proposed, seconded by Clementi, that, “entertaining a very high degree of respect for the talents of so distinguished a personage as Madame de Staël, [the Members] empower the director to admit this Lady and her Daughter to the four remaining Concerts of the present year. When upon a Ballot, there appearing Eleven Ayes & Two Nayes the proposition was decided in the affirmative.” 83
Sometime in the spring of 1814, a former pupil of Pierre Baillot, François Fémy, came to London. Viotti wrote to Baillot that “I have had the pleasure of having your pupil Fémy play for me a few times. He is a good lad who is extremely attached to you and with whom I have often had the great satisfaction of speaking about you.” 84 This can only mean that Viotti had begun giving lessons to Fémy, who played the second violin part in a string sextet by Bernhard Romberg, in the Philharmonic concert of 2 May 1814, with Mori playing first violin, and the composer playing the cello. Fémy also played chamber music in the Philharmonic concerts in 1816 and 1818.
Bernhard Romberg, the cellist, frequented Viotti, as is shown by a letter he wrote to an unidentified friend (undated, but written from London and therefore dating from this time). Romberg invited his friend to dinner on behalf of Viotti, “and since I always think of Viotti as an artist on account of his talent, we shall make some music after dinner.” 85
Another young violinist, Alexandre Boucher, came to London around this time. Ludwig Spohr met him a few years later, and on account of his mannerisms and banter was moved to write, “Boucher had the reputation of being a distinguished violinist, but a great charlatan also.” 86 There is no mention of his visiting Charles Street, but he was announced to play one of his own concertos at Bernhard Romberg's benefit concert in London on 27 June 1814. 87 He seems to have considered playing one of Viotti's concertos, and he must have got in touch with Viotti, for two days before the concert Viotti wrote to him—“Monsieur Boucher, at Mr Vaccari” (Boucher and Vaccari had been colleagues at the Madrid court): (p. 289 )
The four parts were probably the four orchestral string parts for a concerto. It is difficult to understand why Boucher would already have possessed the wind parts, unless he had previously played this concerto with an orchestra, and needed only an additional set of string parts. A concerto by Viotti needing a large orchestra is most likely to be one of those composed for the 1795 Opera Concert, excluding nos. 27, 28, and 29, which had not yet been published. In view of Boucher's reputation for eccentricity in his performances, Viotti's apparent diffidence about his concerto may have had other motives. After one of his performances in London (perhaps the one referred to above), Boucher wrote to his wife, “People do not hesitate to say that […] Viotti never was as powerful as I am [n'a jamais été de ma force].” 89 There is no record of Viotti having any further connection with Boucher.
I ask you as a favor to take the greatest care of these four parts. If they are lost I would have no others. I do not include the wind parts, my dear Monsieur Boucher, as those, of course, you [already] have and you do not need doublings.
For this concerto to have its proper effect, there should be a very large orchestra. Perhaps it would be better to play one of your pieces, which probably would give more pleasure. 88
Paris, Brussels, Lille (1814–18); the Phiharmonic Society (1815, 1816)
It is Viotti who sounds this clarion call, vibrating with a sense of history in the making, and, in the last phrase, echoing Friedrich Schiller's poem set by Beethoven ten years later. The war is over, the allied armies have entered Paris, Napoleon has abdicated (on 6 April), and eight days later Viotti is writing to William, ardently hopeful not only for a new Europe but for young George Chinnery's place in it. In the same letter he wishes he knew who was to be the ambassador to France, so that he could rush to convince him to take George along. Viotti was convinced that a young man of George's abilities deserved more than the drudgery of the Treasury Office. Within a week, his wishes, and the Chinnerys', were brilliantly answered. George was appointed bursar in (p. 290 ) the retinue of Louis XVIII on his triumphant voyage from England to Paris. This of course was not a diplomatic post, and it was temporary, but it carried high responsibility. In his next letter to William, Viotti irreverently referred to George “guarding the money‐bag” (le Magot), which was quite literally true—some of the money in George's care was placed in small bags—and he fired off a typical salvo, which, though it loses something in the translation, is surely akin to hearing the man speak:
What a moment for a young man! The four great sovereigns of Europe, united in that immense capital filled with the warriors of every country and awaiting the rightful descendant of St. Louis who will arrive to take his place! This Scene, which the imagination can perceive from afar, must be beautiful and I almost regret that the dear Padrona will not see it in person, and that she will not be witness to the thousands from every corner of the earth who will join hands to swear Friendship! 90
What a pleasure it will be if, before I kick the bucket [graisser mes bottes pour l'autre monde, literally “grease my boots for the next world”], I can see [George] take flight majestically, leaving behind all those midges [moucherons] advanced by their family connections, and having no merit beyond their name, which most of them carry unworthily! … It will happen, and I hope it does, for Providence is just. 91
If the irony of George being entrusted with very large amounts of money in the service of the government that had found his father guilty of embezzlement was felt by his parents or by Viotti, they refrained from mentioning it in their letters. While in Paris, George stayed with the Cherubinis, who were lodged in the premises of the Conservatoire in Cherubini's capacity as teaching inspector. Viotti wrote to Madame Cherubini, worrying like an anxious father that the twenty‐two‐year‐old George, “with his stay‐at‐home tendency, will not leave the beloved Conservatoire and that he will not do the things required of him in his limited time.” 92 But George acquitted himself to everyone's satisfaction, and that autumn his career did indeed take flight majestically, under the auspices of the distinguished member of Parliament and future Foreign Secretary, George Canning.
With George's career launched, at least for the time being, Viotti turned his attention to his own immediate future, and, inevitably, that of William and Margaret Chinnery. He admonished his friend in Sweden, whom he accused of resembling “those marmots who sleep six months of the year. Wake up, my friend, it is time you came back to a place nearer to us; you will be closer to the centers of commerce.” 93 It was not long before William followed Viotti's advice to go to Calais as the best place for business opportunities in the newly opened‐up Europe.
Viotti, Margaret, and George (who in the meantime had returned from his duties in France), after more than two years of separation from William, and twelve years since their last trip, went to the Continent early in August 1814 for the better part of three months. They stayed in St. Omer, only a few miles from Calais. Viotti had written to Baillot on 12 July (the letter carried by the pianist Kalkbrenner), 94 telling him of his possible visit to Paris: “How I should like to see you, to be in the midst of that little circle of friends so dear to my heart!—Who knows? I leave next week for Holland, and if my affairs permit, it is not unlikely that I shall return to England by way of Paris.” 95
(p. 291 ) In fact, Viotti did get away from St. Omer to visit Paris for eight days, 19–27 September, staying with the Cherubinis. Baillot, who at this time also lived in the Conservatoire building, rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, writes, “Yesterday, after [Viotti's] arrival, we played his manuscript quartets [the three tried out two years earlier] at General Dessolle's; we are doing them again tomorrow at Cherubini's.” 96 In another letter:
Viotti stayed here only for a week. We made music four times with him, during which he had us hear some quintets by Boccherini, his three manuscript quartets, a new concerto in C major [no. 27] and the one in G minor [no. 19] which he has arranged for quartet with some changes. His quartets are full of the most pleasing [heureuses] melodies and ideas. He has charming minuets, full of feeling and grace and he still has the same elegance and the same fire. 97
Cherubini naturally was present at these gatherings. 98 He tells his neighbor Baillot in a note that “I am returning the box of strings that you lent to Viotti, and this is to tell you that the musical evening will definitely take place at the general's the evening after next. Let me know if you will inform your brother, Tario, Norblin and Baudiot, for eight o'clock.” 99 These four were string players; two of them, the violist Antoine‐Alexandre Tariot and the cellist Charles Nicolas Baudiot, had been Baillot's regular quartet partners since at least as long before as 1809. 100 Baillot's “brother” (brother‐in‐law), the violinist Charles Guynemer, and the cellist Louis‐Pierre Norblin were, with Tariot, members of Baillot's string quartet in the chamber music series founded by Baillot in December 1814, which continued until 1840. The two cellists were needed at the general's concerts, of course, for Boccherini's quintets.
We have considered earlier the question of Viotti's familiarity with the music of Beethoven. Baillot had met Beethoven in Vienna in 1805, he had been playing Beethoven's string quartets privately since the same year, and he was soon to become the foremost interpreter of these works in public concerts in Paris, as well as the first to perform Beethoven's Violin Concerto in France. Surely Baillot shared his enthusiasm for Beethoven's music with Viotti, if not on this occasion, when there was so little time, then on subsequent visits. Beethoven's Violin Concerto had been published in London in 1810. Had Viotti noticed the striking echoes of his own concertos, and those of Rode and Kreutzer, in this work?
The high point of Viotti's visit was an exercice in his honor at the Conservatoire. Years later, Baillot remembered it:
The Conservatoire had not been informed [of Viotti's presence in Paris] until just before he was going to leave. The administration, which never missed an opportunity to keep alive the sacred flame, had a concert got up for him, in a few hours; nevertheless, since it had been possible to inform a rather large number of artists and amateurs, the (p. 292 ) hall was full, and Viotti appeared in this familial gathering like a father in the midst of his children. The pupils knew him only from his compositions, which, since the founding of the Conservatoire, have been the set pieces in the annual competitions for the violin prize. The sight of the man who had been their ideal model filled them with enthusiasm: he was welcomed with an explosion of sentiment and emotion. 101
One old friend who may well have been present at this assembly was Jean‐Louis Duport, whom Viotti had not seen since 1789. Duport had returned to Paris from Berlin in 1806. He too had played in the imperial chapel and he taught the cello at the Conservatoire from 1813 to 1816. Viotti and he had exchanged letters at least once earlier in 1814. 102
Another old friendship that Viotti would surely have renewed in Paris was with Madame Vigée‐Lebrun. The celebrated painter had resumed her musical soirées; indeed, on 20 May 1814 the Comtesse Potocka had been to a concert at Madame Vigée‐Lebrun's at which “everyone was amused to see M. de Vaudreuil paying his respects [en faire les honneurs] as if it were twenty‐five years ago.” 103 Viotti would have had very little time to play at Vigée‐Lebrun's during this brief visit to Paris, though another of her friends, Charles Brifaut, relates in his memoirs that “our brilliant artist often gave concerts, in which Viotti, returned from London, enchanted us with the magic of his violin. The Comte de Vaudreuil did not miss one of these soirées.” 104 The Comte de Vaudreuil had been appointed governor of the Louvre by Louis XVIII; in May he had invited George Chinnery to his lodgings in the Palace of the Tuileries, Pavillon Flore. Apparently he too gave concerts, in which, according to one historian, he had Viotti play. 105 If so, it must have been either on this very hurried sojourn in Paris in 1814, or in 1815, since Viotti did not go to Paris in 1816, and Vaudreuil died in January 1817.
On his return to St. Omer, Viotti wrote to thank Madame Cherubini, adding a long list of articles he wants her to buy and send to him in St. Omer: “12 pairs of Grenoble gloves for l'amico: grey, darker, or more or less like those we bought together”; “two dozen batiste handkerchiefs at 60 or 70 francs the dozen, as many as possible for this price and N.B. without borders, just simply in pieces. If it doesn't take more than 24 hours to cut and hem them, it will be worth it as much as to send them to me all ready to dry my beautiful face”; and several other items for Margaret and George. Viotti has already arranged for his former pupil, “Lebon,” now apparently living in Paris, 106 to send him a bow, for Cherubini to send violin strings, and for his brother to send Torinese chocolate.
In the same letter, Margaret Chinnery tells how deeply touched Viotti had been by the reception given him at the Conservatoire:
Margaret concludes with her strongly felt satisfaction at the great affection between Viotti and his “good brother”—that “it is a very lively added interest in our friend's life,—it is a [source] of joy in his heart, because his brother is worthy of him in every way.” 107
And the triumph, the beautiful fete of Saturday the 24th of this month! That day will always be dear to me, it was a wonderful day for our (p. 293 ) friend, and never, I believe, has he felt to the same degree the sweet sentiments of affection, of attachment, and of recognition. He paints his emotion very well for me, though claiming that it is inexpressible. […] But the joys of the heart are as tiring as the pains; he returned very fatigued, the energy with which he recounts the interesting circumstances of his stay with you still tire him,—in two or three days he will be completely recovered,—for the rest his health is perfect.
It was on this visit, then, that Viotti was reunited with André. Viotti had almost certainly not seen his half‐brother, who was twenty‐two years younger than he, since the summer of 1782 or 1783, when the latter was five or six years old. They had corresponded, however, as we have seen, and by as early as 1803 they had clearly developed an affectionate epistolary relationship. In his letter to Viotti of that year André had closed with the words “farewell dear brother, I go now to my post; take care so that I may embrace you as the most tender and beloved person that I have in the world.” 108 André had shown himself to be a man of substance, and though, so far as we know, he never went to England, he was to renew his friendship with Viotti and the Chinnerys on each of their subsequent visits to Paris.
Shortly after returning to St. Omer from Paris, Viotti wrote a long, chatty letter to William Ayrton, describing their “very good lodgings in the Enclosure of St. Berbue, formerly a famous abbey, now the most important Gothic ruin that mortal eye could admire”; the city of Lille, where they stayed for several days, with its “beautiful houses, a great deal of industry and activity,” and its fortifications; and the surrounding countryside (“not an inch of ground lost, everything cultivated with the greatest care”). Viotti also reveals the extent of his reputation on the Continent:
If I needed satisfaction for my amour propre I would have had it there, for no sooner had people read the list of names which is taken every evening to the Commandant, than an immense crowd came running to our hotel, to see me, to thank me for my concertos, Duos, trios &&&—singing to me the beginning of those that had most helped them in their study. However, I wasn't sorry to leave Lille. Having decided not to touch my instrument, it was too painful for me to be obliged to refuse constantly such good people who were so well disposed to me.
We learn from this letter that Viotti and Ayrton had not yet given up on the idea of a Royal Academy of Music: “On my return I will bring you plenty of details on the Conservatoire. Perhaps they will be useful for our future projects.” 109
(p. 294 ) On 25 October 1814, two days before leaving St. Omer for England, Viotti wrote a farewell letter to Baillot, the address of which contains a sly joke: “To Monsieur Baillot the elder [l'ainé].” Baillot had no brothers, and his only son, René, had been born almost exactly a year earlier. Viotti regrets not having visited Baillot at home, and he sends his thanks “to your good brother [Guynemer] for the strings which he has been so good as to let me have,” and closes with “your affectionate friend.” 110
The reception given to Viotti by his peers and by the Conservatoire students—a whole generation of young violinists brought up on his music, the friendship and artistic stimulus of such musicians as Baillot, Cherubini, Jean‐Louis Duport, and Hélène de Montgéroult, not to mention the presence of his own brother—must have given him food for thought on the trip home. In London he had nothing comparable, or very little: the younger generation of violinists (apart from his pupil Mori), headed by Charles Weichsel and Paolo Spagnoletti, though very accomplished, does not appear to have had any special rapport with Viotti, at least not to compare with that enjoyed by Rode and Baillot. Salomon had only a year to live, Janiewicz had settled in Edinburgh (though, it is true, he played in the Philharmonic concerts, at least occasionally, in 1813–15), and Vaccari was to leave England within the year. Dussek had left England in 1799, and in any case he had died, aged fifty‐two, in 1812. Viotti seems to have drifted away from Nicolas‐Joseph Hüllmandel, with whom he had been so friendly in the 1790s. At least there is no mention of him in the correspondence throughout this period until 1821, or of him or his wife attending any of Margaret's musical gatherings. Domenico Dragonetti had been away from England between 1808 and 1814, and he did not play in the Philharmonic orchestra until the 1816 season. Viotti must have felt that London was a less attractive place than Paris for him in some respects. On the other hand, there was no place for him in the Paris Conservatoire. His pupils and followers occupied the top positions in the violin department, and would be his rivals were he to consider resuming a professional career in Paris. All the more reason, then, to pursue the idea of a Royal Academy in London. And, of course, Margaret Chinnery was in London.
On 15 December Viotti received a letter (in Italian) from Clementi regarding the very thing that probably weighed most heavily on his mind on his return, namely his differences with the “stupid Philharmonics.” Clementi, whose smooth ability with difficult artistic personalities had long since been proved (in 1807 he had successfully negotiated a contract with Beethoven, “that haughty beauty,” to publish several of the latter's works), 111 pours oil on troubled waters regarding something (it is not clear what) that has upset Viotti: “You are quite right—but also a little wrong—it seems to me that your anger has prevented you from reading correctly the statement of awards.” He then enjoins Viotti to come to the meeting on the twenty‐first to choose a director to replace Salomon. (p. 295 ) Clementi has promised Samuel Webbe (one of the founding Members) his vote, and asks Viotti to second him. Then,
With this reasoning, and, perhaps, with this flattery, Clementi persuaded Viotti not to resign his directorship, which he had told William he wished to do.
as far as you are concerned (and this is the main reason I have taken pen in hand), remember that I did not accept the Directorship before assuring myself that you were accepting it; as a result we have been convened by Dance &c, so in my opinion it would not be worthy of us to vacillate now. Think it over and consider it carefully, and I am sure that you will decide as the great man that you are. 112
While in Paris Viotti must have discussed with Cherubini the possibility of the latter coming to London. Cherubini had already presented a new overture to the Society, performed at the eighth concert, 30 May 1814. Now, in December, he was offered £200 for a symphony, an overture, and an Italian vocal piece. It would have been Viotti who did the negotiating with his friend, for it was he who announced to the Society on 20 February 1815 that Cherubini intended leaving Paris five days later. 113 Just before leaving, Cherubini asked Baillot to send him “the parts to my quartet, since I must have Viotti hear them.” 114 This was his newly composed first string quartet, in E‐flat, which Baillot and his colleagues had no doubt played through. Cherubini was the star attraction of the 1815 Philharmonic season. He conducted his overture to Anacreon at the third concert, and at the fourth, 3 April, led by Viotti, he conducted the premières of his Overture in G Major and the trio, “Et incarnatus est,” both composed for the Society. At the fifth concert, 17 April, his overture to Les Deux Journées was performed; at the sixth, 1 May, led by Viotti, his Symphony in D Major, composed for the Society, was premièred, and at the eighth and last, 29 May, a manuscript overture, probably the same one premièred at the fourth concert, was played.
Cherubini also gave a benefit concert, on 24 April. For the arrangements, he told his wife a month beforehand,
I shall rely on the advice of Amico; we must not expect a big profit, in case we are mistaken. […] The only day for which I could obtain the permission of the Grand Chamberlain was 24 April. I think, if the room is full, at a half‐guinea per person, (and this price cannot be increased without protests), the receipts will amount to 250 or 300 guineas, from which the indispensable expenses must be deducted. It is better to give the concert in the Philharmonic hall than in the Opera, which is much bigger and would cost more. 115
The program of this concert as advertised in the Times contained one unusual item: “Messrs Mori, Rosquellas and Lindley will perform a Sinfonia Concertante by Viotti.” Since Viotti is not known to have composed a sinfonia concertante (p. 296 ) for three instruments, this may be a mistake, and the work in question was perhaps one of Viotti's trios (trio concertante) for two violins and cello. The identity of Rosquellas has not been ascertained, beyond the fact that he was a violinist, probably Spanish, that he had played a concerto (and sung an aria) in the Hanover Square Rooms in 1812, and that in 1815 he was announced to play in the benefit concerts of Vaccari and Charles Philippe Lafont. In his own benefit on 2 June 1815, “under the immediate patronage of the Spanish Ambassador,” he was to play “a grand concerto on the violin, composed by the celebrated Viotti.” A Rosquellas sang in a trio in the Philharmonic Society concert of 31 May 1813, and he is listed among the male vocal soloists for the 1816 season at the King's Theatre. 116
Of the two Philharmonic concerts that he led in 1815, in that of 3 April Viotti played one of his trios with Mori and Lindley. Three pieces by Mozart were also programmed: the Notturno for wind instruments; the quintet, “Sento, o Dio” from Così fan tutte, in which Naldi and Mrs. Lacy (the former Mrs. Bianchi) sang; and, to conclude, the overture to Le nozze di Figaro. On 1 May Viotti played one of his string quartets with Mori, Moralt, and Lindley. This, according to the program, was “arranged, from Viotti's Pianoforte Concerto in A minor, by himself,” 117 by which was meant, surely, the arrangement of Viotti's Violin Concerto no. 25 for piano and orchestra by Dussek, dedicated to Mrs. Chinnery. The arrangement for string quartet (an arrangement of an arrangement!) does not appear to have been published.
Also appearing in this concert was the pianist‐composer Camille Pleyel, playing his trio for piano, violin, and cello. Pleyel had arrived in London in March, and composed the trio for the Society. On 18 April he wrote to his parents (his father was Ignace Pleyel, the composer‐publisher‐piano manufacturer who had dedicated two of his string quartets to Viotti) that “I have finished the trio, which I shall play on Monday, May 1, with Viotti and Lindley.” In the event it was Mori, not Viotti, who played the trio. The reason for the change is not known; three of Pleyel's letters, written between 22 April and 20 May, in which he would surely have discussed this concert, seem to be missing. 118
Pleyel mentions a large dinner given sometime in May, by Johann Maelzel “for artists on behalf of his Chronometer at which Cramer, Ries, Kalkenbrenner, Bohrer, and others were present.” 119 Pleyel does not mention Viotti, but neither does he say that he himself was present. Knowing, as we do, of Viotti's interest in the new invention, soon to be called the metronome, it would be surprising if he had not attended.
Two other musicians who appeared in the Philharmonic concerts of 1815 deserve mention for their connection with Viotti. In the third concert, 13 March, Friedrich Kalkbrenner played his own sextet for piano, violin, viola, cello, oboe, and bassoon. He played again in 1816 and in 1817. In the eighth and last concert of 1815, the violinist Charles Philippe Lafont (1781–1839) played his trio for violin, flute, and bassoon. Lafont had studied under Kreutzer and Rode in Paris in the 1790s, (p. 297 ) and by early in the new century he was recognized as one of the leading violinists of the French school. He had recently returned from six years in St. Petersburg as solo violinist to the tsar. Viotti would naturally have been interested to hear one of his most distinguished “descendants,” though there is no record of a friendship. Lafont toured a great deal—in 1816 he was to have a famous encounter in Milan with Paganini, often described, perhaps with exaggeration, as a “contest.”
In the meantime, Clementi's soothing letter to Viotti had turned out to be only a temporary palliative. Though details are lacking, it is clear that Viotti and several other Members were so unhappy with the Philharmonic that they decided to form a new organization, which they called the Professional Society. Things came to a head in May–June 1815. In the Times of 31 May the Philharmonic Society announced the treason in their midst with indignation, “pain and surprise.” At the General Meeting of 1 June, “the Secretary read letters from Mr Clementi, Mr Braham, Dr Crotch & delivered a message from Mr Viotti stating their desire of immediately resigning the office of Directors.” 120 Two weeks later it was decided to replace these four dissidents, but by the twenty‐first the schism seems to have been partially healed, as Viotti was one of six Members reelected as directors. 121 However, “the dispute rumbled on.” 122 At the Meeting of 27 September it was decided “that a committee be appointed to meet a committee of the Professional Society relative to a proposal from the latter respecting a union of the two Societies.” 123 One Member, the gifted but unstable Samuel Wesley, seems to have considered Viotti to be the ringleader of the breakaway group: “The persons stiling themselves the professional concert, in contradistinction & indeed in opposition to the Philharmonic have (through Viotti, whom I consider as an arch‐hypocrite) made what I believe to be no better than a mock Proposal towards an union with the Society whom the former so treacherously left.” Wesley gloomily concludes that “the feud between [the two groups] will rather be increased than diminished, so that the ultimate Result will be the Annihilation of both.” 124
By 22 November the crisis seems to have blown over, at least on the surface. Braham, with twenty votes, Clementi with nineteen, and Viotti with eighteen, were among the twelve members elected directors for the following season. But within a little over a month, Viotti had had another change of heart. On 3 January 1816 he wrote, in English (surely dictated by Margaret) to W. Watts, the Secretary, regretfully declining the post of director “both on account of the indifferent state of my health and the attention to my Commercial Concerns,” but assuring the Philharmonic Society that he will “remain one of its most zealous and devoted members.” 125 Later that month he wrote, perhaps more truthfully, to William Ayrton, that the “concept of the [Philharmonic] Concert is no longer the same as previously,” that before it had been almost a private affair, in which the musicians had played the works of the great European composers, and the public was admitted, almost as a favor, to share the pleasure. But now (p. 298 ) it has become quite simply a subscription series, in which the players are paid, and in which everything depends on the favor of the public. Viotti then writes, with a candor unique in his letters, of his feelings about his own professional standard:
Now, my dear Sir, you understand, that having been retired from the professional world for about twenty years, I can no longer permit myself to appear on the stage without being taxed for fecklessness and exposing myself to criticism. That is why I am going to write to the Directors to ask them not to rely on my feeble talent, and to assure them at the same time that I shall never cease to have the best wishes for a society of which I shall always be honored to be a member. 126
It would appear from this letter that Viotti no longer played in the Philharmonic orchestra after the 1815 season, and, as it turned out, his performance in the concert of 1 May 1815 was the last time he was heard in a public concert in England, or indeed, anywhere. But he must have changed his mind again about his directorship, for in the ballot of 17 June 1816 he was once again elected a director, though with the lowest number of votes of those elected. Finally, in February 1817, Viotti resigned for the last time, to be replaced by Friedrich Kalkbrenner. 127
Cherubini stayed with Viotti and Margaret in Charles Street for the duration of his visit, until early June 1815. He was among those present at a dinner given in May by Margaret, followed by music. “We had Kalkbrenner, the two Bohrers, & Ramorino to dinner,” after which eleven others came, including Sir Charles and Lady Flint, the St. Legers, William Spencer, and Naldi—“these with Cherubini and ourselves made our little room look & feel very small.” 128 Kalkbrenner had clearly joined the charmed circle of Viotti's and Margaret's friends. Anton (1783–1852) and Maximilian (1785–1867) Bohrer, violinist and cellist, respectively, had been recommended to Viotti the preceding year by the Duke of Cambridge, who had heard them in Hanover. 129 They visited England in 1815 and in 1818 but did not play in the Philharmonic concerts. Ramorino may have been the sea captain, the friend of a friend, whom Viotti recommended in the mid‐1790s, as mentioned in his Précis. Margaret tells William that the guests stayed until half past one; she praises the playing of Kalkbrenner and the Bohrers, but is silent on what music they played. If there was a violist among the guests, there may well have been a reading of Cherubini's string quartet, which he had brought to London expressly for Viotti to hear.
On his return journey, Cherubini encountered Giuseppina Grassini at Dover, who was on her way to London. He arrived at the port of Calais at 10:30 P.M. on 4 June, and slept in the packet‐boat, the city being closed at that hour. The next morning, he wrote to his wife at 8 A.M., “Since six o'clock I have had breakfast and I went to see Amico's husband. At about ten o'clock the trunks will be inspected, and afterwards I should have nothing to do other than to think (p. 299 ) about continuing my journey.” 130 William Chinnery would have been pleased to see the internationally acclaimed composer, now his friend as well as Viotti's, though he might not have appreciated Cherubini's slightly venomous allusion, were he to hear of it, which, of course, he wouldn't have.
In the summer of 1815 Viotti seems to have considered a moneymaking scheme, involving William, the details of which are unclear. He tells William that it had to do with
The mutilator was John Betts, the prominent violin maker and dealer, whose shop was in the North Piazza of the Royal Exchange. Then, as now, some violin maker‐dealers indulged in the dubious practice of creating two or more prestigiously labeled violins by combining parts of one good instrument with parts of an inferior instrument or instruments. As to what had happened at the Betts shop, what precisely the moneymaking scheme was, who the companions of Viotti's youth were, and how the astonishing airs with variations were involved, of all this Viotti reveals nothing. However, it is possible that “airs with variations” was Viotti's code for “variations” on Stradivarius violins, fabricated by Betts. That would explain “unfortunately, all has been revealed” (maintenant tout est dit malheureusement)—perhaps there had recently been a revelation of Betts's underhand doings; and it would explain “he no longer produces” (il ne s'éxecute plus)—not “compose,” and not “perform” (exécute)—the astonishing airs (astonishing because Betts was very good at “cloning” Stradivarius instruments). So the moneymaking scheme would have involved selling Betts‐made “Stradivarius” violins at Stradivarius prices. Viotti may have used this code language because he was very careful about such things (his letter might be intercepted and read) and wanted to remove any hint that he and William would have involved themselves in disreputable practices. If correct, this interpretation of Viotti's enigmatic words casts him in a poor light; we can only be thankful that the scheme came to nothing.
what happened at Betz's, the mutilator [l'estropieur] of Stradivariuses! In the position in which you were, having the right sort of friends, such as those whom I know to be friends of yours, and who were formerly the companions of my youth, most certainly there would have been the means to earn an immense profit from it, but for that, it would have been necessary for me to see you, for me to become a veritable Mercury, for me, for you, for us to have flown, so to speak, and that was impossible at the time when the matter was broached to me. Now, unfortunately, all has been revealed; he no longer produces those airs with variations that are so astonishing! And the game wouldn't be worth the candle. 131
According to a not entirely reliable source, Arthur Betts (1775–1847), John's younger brother, who was a violinist, was taught by Viotti. 132 Arthur Betts was the composer of several published compositions. A “Mr Betts” played in the (p. 300 ) violin section of the Philharmonic Society orchestra for several years, beginning in 1816.
In July 1815 Viotti and Margaret were undecided about where to go for their annual visit to the Continent. (George, though still holding his post in the Treasury, had been in Lisbon since March as the private secretary to George Canning, returning to England in October.) Though Napoleon's Hundred Days had ended on 18 June with his defeat at Waterloo, followed by his second abdication on the twenty‐second, and his capture on 15 July, and though Louis XVIII had returned to Paris on 8 July, there was still widespread concern about the stability of the political and social situation in France. Viotti, Margaret, William, and Matilda spent the month of August in the kingdom of the Netherlands, visiting Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, and Lille. Then, perhaps reassured by the news that Napoleon had embarked in British custody for St. Helena, they continued on to Paris. They stayed in the Hôtel de Londres, rue du Mont Thabor, no doubt because Cherubini (and the other residents of the Conservatoire) had been evicted in January and may not have been able to offer accommodation to the four visitors. The Conservatoire, in fact, suffered in the early days of the Restoration—its Revolutionary origins were displeasing to the Bourbon monarch—and it was closed completely for about two years, before reopening in 1816 as the École royale de musique.
Unfortunately, since Baillot left on a lengthy tour of the Netherlands and England on 19 September 133 (Viotti would have been disappointed to see him go), we do not have his eloquent and precise accounts of music making with his revered colleague. But we are reassured as to Viotti's having found at least one chamber music companion of the highest order, by a note from Jean‐Louis Duport addressed to Viotti at “Rue Montabord”: “I'm not the one who has your duo in G minor [WIV: 29]. I put my music in my cello case, and so I am sending you the key to the case. Have a look behind my cello. Thank you very much for the beautiful music that you let me hear the evening before last.” 134 Duport, Viotti's old colleague from the 1780s, has left his cello in Viotti's rooms in the Hôtel de Londres, meaning that there are plans to meet again soon for music making.
While in Paris, Viotti received a letter from the Duke of Cambridge, in Hanover. The duke thanks Viotti for having “executed the errand for me concerning the bows.” Since he has two other bows that Viotti has already sent, he has no immediate need for them.
The quartets may have been the ones composed three years earlier (WII:13–15), dedicated to André, which Viotti had originally intended to dedicate to the duke. On the other hand, these were not published until 1817, and it was risky to circulate a manuscript work before publication. The duke does not say which Romberg it was he had played with, but it probably was the cellist, Bernhard, who had performed with Viotti's pupils Mori and Fémy in London the year before, and who was a friend of Viotti's.
I am certain [he continues] that your friends in Paris would have had much pleasure in seeing you again, and I rejoice that they have persuaded you to take up composing again. I await with great impatience the concerto that you so kindly are dedicating to me. I have been busy practicing the Quartets, which are very beautiful. I played (p. 301 ) one of them with Romberg, who was delighted with it. He stayed here a week. 135
The concerto dedicated to the duke was no. 27, probably composed (and played by Viotti) in 1794 or 1795, but not published until 1815, the year of this letter. Chappell White has pointed out that it is one of the least technically demanding of Viotti's London concertos, and that the crowded notation of the ornamentation of the solo violin part in the slow movement in the autograph score was an afterthought, suggesting that it may have been done for the instruction of the duke. 136 The letter seems to indicate, since the duke was apparently not familiar with the work, that the ornamentation was added at this time. Perhaps Viotti sent the autograph score, or only this movement from it, as a complement to the published score, which bears the dedication.
In December, Pierre Baillot arrived in England on the last leg of his concert tour. He played in three of the Philharmonic concerts of 1816. In the first, on 26 February, he played a Concertante for Violin (the ban on solos had been lifted), a Mozart quartet with his former pupil, Fémy, and a manuscript quintet by Klengel for piano ( played by the composer), violin, viola, cello, and double bass, played by Dragonetti. This performance was Dragonetti's first in a Philharmonic Society concert, and it marks his return to the public platform in London after an absence of several years. From now on he was one of the pillars of London's musical life (and indeed of England's), both in concerts and in the Opera orchestra. Baillot's next appearance was not until the sixth concert, 13 May. In the interim, he played in various centers in northern England. But apparently the Society had expected Baillot to play in all of its concerts. Viotti undertook to mediate in the misunderstanding. His letter (in French), hitherto unpublished, is interesting for its combination of diplomacy and forthrightness:
In the event the £80 was reduced to 50 guineas, implying that though £80 was considered (by Baillot and Viotti) to be too little for all the concerts, it was considered (by the Philharmonic Society) to be too much for only three. In the sixth concert, 13 May, Baillot led the orchestra, and played a Haydn quartet, with Fémy and his Parisian colleague, the cellist Baudiot, who also played his own quintet for cello, two violins, viola, and double bass, joined by, among others, Baillot and Dragonetti. Finally, Baillot led in the seventh Philharmonic concert, 27 May, in which he played a string quintet by Beethoven, again with Fémy. On 4 June he returned to Paris. 138
5 April 1816
I deeply regret not to be able to attend in person the meeting this evening. I would have been delighted to add my little knowledge to yours, to decide upon the choice of pieces for the next concert in order to avoid, or rather to take away from the subscribers their reason for complaining that the concerts are too long, much too long. No doubt (p. 302 ) your good sense enables you to recognize this truth and to remedy it; but anyway one more voice would have done no harm, I think.
I regret still more, Gentlemen, that I should have found it necessary to involve myself in the matter of Monsieur Baillot! … It would seem that there is some misunderstanding between the Society and him which I do not understand! … Mr. Baillot is an utterly honest man, refined and sensitive. I have known him, as you may well imagine, for many years, intimately [au fond]. I can vouch for the fact that he will keep his word. But also, I cannot think that the Society expects that, for the slender sum of £80, he will undertake to play in all the concerts, and to be tied down in London without moving, as I have been led to believe! No, the Society has too many bright intellects [lumières], it knows all too well how to treat great talents, for me to believe that.
I had intended to bring Mr Baillot to the committee myself, but being unable to break my previous engagement, I advised him to present himself alone, and I promised him that I would inform you.
This I do with great pleasure, since when people see each other they come to an understanding more easily than by letter, and many difficulties disappear with conversation.
Receive him, then, with the consideration he merits, and believe me to be always,
Your very humble and very obedient servant,
[signed] J. B. Viotti 137
Earlier that year, Matilda, observant as always, and with a penchant for gossip, wrote in a postscript to one of Viotti's letters to William, “Amico is quite disconcerted,—he has lost all chance with Miss Keating—reports say she is married to an English Officer at Paris. It is said her mother is dead. I can hardly believe this to be true. This is a brilliant year for weddings!” 139 Mrs. and Miss Keating had been frequent callers at the Charles Street house in 1814, according to Matilda, but there is no other mention of them in the Viotti‐Chinnery correspondence. 140 This is the only suggestion in the entire literature on Viotti of his considering marriage, and intriguing though it is, it is too fleeting, too offhand to be given much weight. If there is anything behind Matilda's remarks, it is (p. 303 ) odd that neither Viotti, now sixty years old, nor Margaret makes any mention of it in their letters.
In the meantime, William Chinnery appears to have acted as an agent in Calais for the wine business of Viotti and Charles Smith's. Viotti, however, was not happy with his friend's lack of initiative, and, in one of his admonishing letters, tells him that he should move to where there are greater commercial opportunities, such as Rouen or Bordeaux. He cautions William about relying on friends—advice, one feels, learned in the hard school of his own experience:
William seems to have been roused by Viotti's advice. Not long afterward he moved to Le Havre to set up in a trading business (wine, spirits, sugar, tea, and coffee) 142 with a certain Joseph Cary.
Friends, however well‐intentioned, do nothing, they sit back while the opportunity passes, if the one in whom they take an interest doesn't put himself in a position in which he can be helped, and if he doesn't get a move on himself! […] It's up to you never to lose sight of the fact that you must do something, you must be on the lookout and seize everything that comes your way, and finally, to get it into your head that, come hell or high water, you definitely cannot live a life of idleness. 141
It was in 1816 that Viotti's and Charles Smith's wine business was dealt a serious blow. John Spencer, William's brother, who was musical, 143 and who had several times received Viotti and the Chinnerys at Petersham, his home in the country, 144 had been one of the most valued customers of the wine business. But in March he had been issued an “extent” by the government, freezing his assets, and the apparently large amount of money he owed to Smith and Viotti was lost. Viotti, though put in a “bad humor” as he tells William Chinnery, is philosophical: “there is nothing left but to regret having had anything to do with these spendthrifts.” 145 Yim has suggested that it was this loss that precipitated the dissolution of the wine business, which occurred two years later. 146 If so, Viotti seems not yet to be aware of it.
It is perhaps typical of Viotti, that, having vented his frustration at the beginning of his letter, he turns to more pleasant things: a surprise party for Giuseppe Naldi in his own home on his Saint's Day. Viotti, George, Matilda, and other friends kept Naldi in the dark, and away from his house, until nine o'clock, whereupon he was presented with the spectacle of his drawing room turned into a theater. About 100 guests were there to greet him. First, there was a charming little French comedy, in which Naldi's wife and daughter played the principal roles, followed by a brief Italian opera, words and music written especially for the occasion, with an orchestra composed of Vaccari, Spagnoletti, Sor, 147 and Crouch. Naldi's daughter, Caroline, was a promising soprano, who was to make her Paris début four years later. It is difficult to imagine who, other than Viotti, would have composed the music for this piece, though he modestly (p. 304 ) refrains from saying so, and though no trace of it has survived. 148 The festivities, which brought tears to Naldi's eyes, continued with waltzing, then “we ate an elephant—mind you, I mean a biscuit, and we went to bed.”
Finally, in this cornucopia of a letter, Viotti asks William to have sent to him from Paris “a little bottle of Elixir Dentifrice from the chemist Chez Bés, rue de Grenelle St. Honoré no. 34. It is to kill an old tooth, in an old jaw, which Dumergue [ Viotti's and the Chinnery's dentist] doesn't want to take out.” 149 One has the distinct impression that Viotti had trouble with his teeth. He had obviously patronized the Parisian chemist previously.
In early July 1816, Margaret gave one of her smart musical parties, which she proudly described to William: “The Demoiselles De Lihu [two sisters, who were to sing in a Philharmonic concert the next year, and again in 1818] sang together admirably well. Naldi & his daughter also sang well, & Amico played some Duetts with Vaccari in his very best stile of finish, tone & execution! Nothing could be more perfect.” The heat in the small room was “intolerable,” but the two violinists seem to have overcome the problems that this is likely to have caused (sweaty hands and adversely affected string tension). There were at least seventeen guests, including the Dunmores, St. Leger and his daughter, Count and Countess St. Antonio (the former Miss Sophia Johnstone), and members of the diplomatic community. Afterward, Margaret gave them tea, lemonade, cakes, and ices. 150
That autumn Viotti and Margaret again went to the Continent (August to November). They had planned to visit Madame Vigée‐Lebrun, who wrote to Margaret in July, including an eloquent testimonial to the strength of her feelings toward Viotti and his playing: “It has been such a long time since I have heard news of Amico. My God, if only you could be with me and I could hear him talk with such an expressive face, and the sweet sounds [of his playing] which I listened to with such pleasure. Why do I not hear them any more! They are still in my heart, but I say continually Encore, Encore!” 151
In any event, Margaret and Viotti did not go to France that year, but to Brussels, where they joined William, and later George, who had been in Paris in August with George Canning. While in Brussels Viotti received a letter from the Duke of Cambridge. Viotti clearly has asked the duke to use his influence to advance Margaret's interests, and, it would seem, to help find a larger house for her (and Viotti). The duke regrets that he is unable to do anything, that all the apartments in the various palaces are occupied, that there are already too many on the Grand Chamberlain's waiting list, and that there are no honorary positions (such as that of a lady in waiting, one presumes) available in his sister's household establishment (surely the duke means the eldest of his five surviving sisters, Charlotte, the princess royal). 152
Whatever her real financial position, Margaret was able to maintain a lifestyle not noticeably inferior to that she enjoyed at Gillwell. Joseph Farington had asserted in his diary, after William Chinnery's defalcation in 1812, that (p. 305 ) “Mrs. Chinnery (ci‐devant Miss Tresilian) had settlements so made upon Her that she has now sufficient income to enable her to have a House in Charles st. Berkeley Sqre. [recte Manchester Square] and to keep two men and two maid servants.” 153 This is corroborated by Margaret herself, for the period before the move from Gillwell, except that the second manservant, the footman, “whenever there happened to be one, was Amico's servant, paid & clothed by him.” The second maidservant had been Caroline's, 154 but it seems likely that after the move to Charles Street these four servants were retained, that Caroline's maid became Matilda's, and that Viotti continued to pay for his own footman. 155 Early in 1815, Margaret had obtained a settlement of £2,050 (see note 26), a sum equivalent in purchasing power to £127, 583 in 2007. Now, in 1816, before departing for Brussels, she had written to William that “I might perhaps find a good Swiss servant at Brussels, & bring him home with me. Here there is not one who will wear a livery, & a livery servant I must have.” 156 Perhaps more significantly, by early in the following year she had bought a house at 17 Montagu Street in the fashionable Portman Square area, to which she, Viotti, George, and the two girls moved in the summer of 1817. 157
It was almost certainly during this sojourn in Brussels that Viotti met the young Flemish violinist André Robberechts (1797–1860). According to Fétis, Robberechts had taken lessons from Baillot in Paris in 1814. 158 After this meeting in Brussels he went to London to study with Viotti, and soon became Viotti's regular partner in duet performances in Margaret's concerts. The next spring, Robberechts received from his master a token of his esteem in the form of an unusual piece of music ( figure 8.1 ), and, to explain it, a letter:
10 April 1817
I want to keep my promise, my dear Robberechts. You will receive from Mr. Smith a little trifle which really is nothing, but is scribbled by my own hand. It will serve at least to prove to you that I haven't forgotten you and that I have the most sincere wishes for your success.
I need not tell you that in playing this piece you must try as much as possible to imitate two violins. When you play it, have the maid stand behind the door to guess if there is one or two violins playing. If she says two, that's it [c'est la chose].
We have not yet decided on our summer plans. I will take care to inform you in time of the place of our doings. In the meantime, believe me to be very sincerely, Your affectionate friend 159
Other than this “March for two Violins to be played by one solo [violin]” and one other essay in the genre, Viotti seems not to have been particularly interested in the polyphonic possibilities of the violin. His use of double stops in his concertos, while sometimes quite extensive, is conventional and devoid of polyphonic implications.
Though Robberechts apparently continued studying with Viotti in the succeeding years, he had to wait until 1819 before Viotti permitted him to appear in public in a Philharmonic concert. On 10 January of that year a letter from Viotti was read at a directors' meeting recommending his pupil, who was duly admitted to the first violin section at £1.11.6 per night. 160 A little later, probably early in March, Viotti wrote asking at which point in the second concert (15 March) the directors thought Mori and Robberechts would be playing “the Concertante ` grand orchestre which they are preparing.” In the event, it was at the end of the first half of the concert that his two pupils, one former, the other current, played what must have been one of his two symphonies concertantes, composed more than thirty years earlier. Robberechts also played first violin in a Haydn string quartet in the third concert, 29 March. In the same letter Viotti informs the Society that “the day before yesterday there has arrived from Munich the famous clarinettist, Mr. Böhrmann, in the service of the King of Bavaria. He has had the greatest success in Paris. If the Directors believe that this could be an excellent diversion for the Philharmonic Concerts, I shall gladly undertake to arrange things to the satisfaction of everyone.” 161 Viotti did indeed arrange things, for in the same concert, “Herr Baermann” played his Fantasia for Clarinet and Orchestra, and in the fifth, 26 April, his Septette for Clarinet, Strings and Two Horns.
Viotti was indefatigable in promoting the interests of his pupils. Early in 1818 the directors of the Philharmonic Society informed Viotti that Fémy would be (p. 308 ) written to, “assuring him that there will be another trial night on which his two M.S. Sym[phonies] shall be performed.” 162 No work of Fémy's was played in the Society's public concerts, though he played chamber music several times in the concerts in 1814, 1816, and 1818. One has the distinct impression, that, just as he had in Paris, Viotti preferred to have his pupils play rather than appear himself, though the above‐mentioned performance of a symphonie concertante was the only time there was a performance of one of his own works in a Philharmonic concert in which he did not play himself, and, in fact, it was the last time a work of his was played by the Philharmonic in his lifetime. On the other hand, Robberechts and Mori occasionally played works by Viotti in other concerts. Mori, for example, played a concerto by Viotti in a benefit concert on 7 June 1815; in oratorio nights at Covent Garden on 8, 13, and 27 March 1822; and between the acts of a Drury Lane oratorio evening on 31 March 1824, not long after Viotti's death. Robberechts was announced to play a set of “MS variations” by Viotti on 19 May 1819 at the benefit concert of Rovedino and his son. 163
One slight piece of evidence that Viotti was composing in this period is a letter from Margaret, unfortunately fragmentary, telling William that “[ John] Crosdill is delighted with Amico's new Duets, which he […]” (at this point the letter is torn off). 164 It is not clear which duets these might have been. Viotti's only known duets originally composed for cellos are the set of six, WIV:37–42, published several years earlier and dedicated to Crosdill. Margaret may have been speaking of a new arrangement, though there is no known arrangement for two cellos of any of the violin duets.
On New Year's Day 1817, Margaret Chinnery asked William Ayrton for “the pleasure of your company […] next Wednesday evening the 8th, not later than nine o'clock,” when Madame Camporese, the new prima donna at the King's Theatre, “has promised to be with us.” 165 Violante Camporese made her London début in Cimarosa's Penelope on the 11th—no doubt she sang an aria or two from this opera at Margaret's soirée, and no doubt Viotti played.
In June 1817 Viotti, Margaret, and Matilda went on their annual trip to the Continent, this time accompanied by George. They stayed in Lille, where Matilda's mother, Mrs. John Chinnery, was visiting from India. They undoubtedly spent time with William. Viotti also spent some time in Paris; how much time is not known. On 7 July the Duke of Cambridge wrote to Viotti from Montbrillant, his palace in Hanover. The duke thanks Viotti for his two recent letters, and encloses a draft for 50 guineas for a violin Viotti has acquired for him, which he asks Viotti to deliver to his Mâitre d'Hôtel, Mr. Unlin, with instructions for it to be brought to Hanover. Since the duke says that Viotti had mentioned the violin in a letter of 26 May, we may presume that the latter had bought the violin in London. Perhaps this instrument was a Stradivari—three Stradivari violins are listed in Goodkind's book (1972) as having been owned by the duke. (p. 309 ) The duke sends his best wishes to Margaret and George, and he is pleased to hear of the new house. He regrets having time to make music only rarely, though he sings occasionally, accompanied (very well) by a certain Balossi, a good composer. 166
In mid‐October Viotti and Margaret were in Lille, staying in the rue Royale. On the seventeenth of that month Viotti wrote to “mon cher Monsieur Vogel,” regretting that, due to Margaret's indisposition, their concert planned for Sunday evening (“our enormous, harmonious noise”) would have to be called off. 167 Mr. Vogel, a prominent local violinist, later made the acquaintance of Louis Spohr when the latter stopped in Lille in the spring of 1820 on his way to London.
Early in 1818, after returning to London with Margaret, 168 Viotti was honored with an invitation to a dinner given by the Philharmonic Society, despite the fact that he had hardly participated in the activities of the Society for some time. It must have been a gala event—the list of invitees included the Duke of Sussex, several ambassadors, Sir Thomas Lawrence, the actors Edmund Kean and John Philip Kemble, Samuel Coleridge, and John Soane. 169 Margaret was able to entertain more lavishly in the new house in Montagu Street. She describes a large party given on 25 May 1818, at which some eighty guests were present, besides the “nine or ten professors” (musicians):
The newcomer among the performers is Manuel Garcia, the Spanish tenor, now the leading tenor at the King's Theatre, where, among other roles, he was singing Almaviva in Barbiere, with Naldi in the role of Figaro. Garcia had created the role of Almaviva in Rome two years earlier, and was soon to be the leading tenor at the Paris Opéra during Viotti's directorship.
The people began coming in about ten, & continued coming & going all the evening,—some went away & came back again. About two they were all gone but the professors. We began with a Symphony of Haydn's, then a vocal Quintett from Rossini's Barbiere di Seviglia,—then Amico and Robberecht played, then a vocal Duett by Miss Naldi and Garcia. After this the Bohers played (which they never shall do again here). Then a Duett by Naldi & Garcia,—after that a Duett by Lady Flint & Miss Naldi, which terminated the whole. 170
The Duke of Cambridge had returned to England after another five years in Hanover (1813–18, except for a brief sojourn in England in the summer of 1816, when he certainly saw George, and, perhaps, Viotti). 171 In June 1818 Viotti, Margaret, and George saw a great deal of him. On one occasion (10 June), Viotti dined with the duke and his bride of only a month, the twenty‐year‐old Princess Augusta of Hesse‐Cassel. Viotti told Margaret that “nothing could be more amiable, or more delightful, than the young Duchess,—she has fair blue eyes with beautiful dark eye‐lashes & eyebrows, good teeth. […] After dinner the Duchess sang to Amico, & nothing could be pleasanter […]. Tomorrow there is a probability of [the duke's] having a Quartetto at Cambridge House.” 172 (p. 310 ) A few days later Viotti dined again with the duke. “He went by appointment to play Duetts, & the Duke desired he would dine there.” In the evening, after dinner, George arrived while Viotti and the duke were making music. 173
On 22 June Margaret wrote to William, in the aftermath of a serious difference with the man whose life she had shared for more than twenty years. She begins abruptly, in a high emotional state, without the usual “my dearest Chin” or similar salutation:
It would seem that the immediate cause of this extraordinary outpouring was Margaret's having remonstrated with Viotti, and his responding sharply, too sharply—a typical disagreement, on the face of it, between any two persons living together. But there is more to it than that. Margaret, now in her mid‐fifties, was aware of her long‐standing position as the prime mover of the family. Her vigilance, which no one (she means Viotti, surely) thanks her for, is in the interests of her family. Perhaps Viotti had said something to cast doubt on this role. Though Viotti might have thought that Margaret herself could be overbearing (it would have been interesting to read his description of the discussion), it cannot be denied that Margaret was justified in her alarm at Viotti's retreat from music, from life itself. On the other hand, she might have remembered that Viotti was (p. 311 ) given to periods of “hating” music, and that, thus far, he had emerged from them triumphantly. His giving himself over to novels—Viotti, who appreciated Plutarch, Racine, and Shakespeare—would nowadays no doubt be called an “escape mechanism.” One wonders what novels they were that Margaret thought odious. There was, at any rate, one perfectly simple reason for Viotti's depression—his and Charles Smith's wine business had been losing ground since 1816, and apparently failed utterly in 1818.
It is not always an easy thing to bear with Amico's temper, at all times.—I have always regretted that among the many fine qualities he possesses there should be an over‐bearingness that at times renders both his actions & expressions harsh. As to me,—I am now so often, so very often told that I am unjust, difficult to satisfy, &c&c&c, that I have lost all confidence in myself, and believe I shall adopt a new line of conduct, & letting things go their own way avoid this sort of painful discussion which destroys me, at least it destroys the peace of my mind. When we shall all find ourselves, when my vigilance is laid aside, I know not,—but as no one seems to thank me for it, or even to be of my opinion, it will be best to commit all to the stream & float down with it as I can. For a very long time past Amico hates music,—he never composes, would never touch a violin if he could avoid it,—his delight is in reading novels!—In this idle occupation he would spend his entire day, and a note or letter to write, a person calling upon him, anything in the world that takes him from these odious books, is a contretemps to him. Scarcely will he read a letter addressed to himself! Any other, he says he has not eyes to read. The moment I begin to reason with him a little upon this lamentable propensity, the cause of a thousand mistakes & omissions, he talks of being très malheureux, that he would mourir &c&c in the most violent strain. However, he must do as he likes, not as I like,—indeed my likings are of little consequence,—my day is over dearest Chinnery,—I am, as nothing in my own eyes—When I think of my former happiness, & my present situation,—I think there is still something to set off against my faults, in bearing it as I do! 174
A mere four days after the letter, however, on 26 June, Viotti roused himself to participate in another of Margaret's glittering parties. Crosdill could not attend, but she was able to secure the services of Christopher Schram, Garcia, and the Naldis. About twenty‐five guests attended, including “about a dozen men chiefly from the diplomatic corps,” and the Duke of Cambridge, who arrived at about 9:30 P.M. A quintet from Rossini's Barber of Seville was sung. “This went off very well & tea having been handed round, the Duke took the second violin part in a Quintetto of Boccherini's. I never heard him play better, but the heat was so over‐powering that he declined playing any more.” Before the singers left at ten o'clock for a prior engagement, Caroline Naldi and Garcia sang a duet. Tea was handed round again, and the duke, just before leaving, heard Viotti and Robberechts play a duet. Madame de Montgéroult, who was in England for a visit of several months, also played, “but alas!—her execution & her taste are much fallen off!” 175
One cannot but be curious about Madame de Montgéroult's eight‐ or nine‐month sojourn in England. 176 Did she stay with Margaret and Viotti at Montagu Street? Did she and Viotti make music together? Is Margaret's criticism to be taken at face value? What had happened to the pianist's execution and taste? Her letter to Margaret, written after returning to Paris, is cordial; she misses the musical evenings at Montagu Street: “I felt so at home in that beloved drawing room listening to and admiring dear Amico!” 177
A week later Margaret gave still another party, which Glenbervie describes in his journal:
Viotti played with accompaniment (no doubt provided by Matilda on the piano), but also, more unusually, without accompaniment—perhaps he improvised variations on a well‐known tune, or perhaps it was the “duet” for solo violin that he had sent to Robberechts the year before. We exclude, for lack (p. 312 ) of evidence, the possibility that it was a movement from the six sonatas and partitas for unaccompanied violin by J. S. Bach, though this brings us to the interesting question of whether, indeed, Viotti was familiar with these works, now considered a touchstone of the violinist's art. Viotti's pupil, Jean Baptiste Cartier, included the Fugue from Bach's Sonata in C Major in his L'art du violon, first published in Paris in 1798, of which Viotti surely owned a copy. The six sonatas and partitas had been published in 1802. J. P. Salomon had apparently played them “in exemplary fashion” during his years in London. 179 George Bridgetower, we have learned from two independent contemporary sources, made music with Viotti and was influenced by his playing. According to Samuel Wesley, who was friendly with Bridgetower (less so with Viotti, as we have noted), and who himself was an important early advocate of the music of Bach, “It was a rich treat for a lover of the instrument to hear [ Bridgetower] perform the matchless and immortal Solos of Sebastian Bach, all of which he perfectly retained in his Memory and executed with the utmost Precision and without a single Error.” 180 Bridgetower had held the post of first violinist in the private orchestra of the Prince of Wales from 1795 to 1809, and he was Viotti's colleague in the Philharmonic Society—there was ample opportunity for contact between the two violinists, although there is no record of Bridgetower being a part of the Chinnery circle. Could there have been an influence exerted by the younger man, who had probably first met Viotti at the age of ten in Paris, on his older colleague?
In the evening I went to a select concert at Mrs Chinnery's, where the amico, as she calls him, played on his violin, with and without accompaniment, to the great admiration of the connoisseurs. [Glenbervie goes on to list many of the guests, including “several diplomatic personages.”] Fiotti [sic] talked to me of Madame d'Esmangart, whom he had known last winter at his brother's, who he told me is a colonel and Attorney General at Paris, a strange union of situations, but I found he meant that he has the same sort of office and duties with our Judge Advocate. 178
By July 1818 it was again time for the annual trip to the Continent. Again Viotti was honored with a memorable gathering of friends and fellow artists in Paris, reminiscent of the one that had so moved him in 1814. Both Baillot and Edme Miel describe it, Baillot about two weeks afterward:
Baillot modestly omits to say that the ritornellos were violin solos, played by him, as Miel, who most probably was present, informs us in his article on Viotti. The E minor concerto was no. 29, not published until 1824. Opinions differ as to whether Viotti composed this concerto to perform in the Opera Concert in the period 1795–98, or later, even as late as 1817. White points out that the middle movement (Andante sostenuto) was composed after the other two movements, and that “the outer two movements, both of which show signs of revision [in the autograph manuscript], were changed at this time.” 184 This suggests that Viotti had been galvanized by Margaret's remonstrances, and, during the Paris sojourn, had set himself the task of providing a middle movement for this concerto, lacking in the original version. And, as Denise Yim observes, since the fête was given at his and Margaret's lodgings, she would have had a hand in the secret preparations, which suggests that it may have been an effort to “bring Viotti back to his art.” 185 Seven years later, Baillot pointed out in his Notice sur J.‐B. Viotti that on this occasion, no one in Paris, apart from a few friends, had heard Viotti play a concerto for more than thirty years. “Alas! It was his swan song; we were hearing him for the last time.”
I saw M. de Louvois at a morning assembly at Viotti's, whom I had the pleasure of hearing at two of these gatherings and at a little fête which we gave him on Sunday, October 25, two days before his departure. A young poet had composed a cantata in his honor, which the good Habeneck 181 set to music with recitatives and choruses. I slipped in eight lines to which he composed a charming chorus that ended the cantata. We went to Viotti's upon leaving the king's Mass. No one had spoken a word of it to him. We had gathered together an orchestra and all our pupils. This surprise so moved him that on entering he was unable to walk or speak and he was overcome with tears. The ritornellos were made up of a dozen motives from his concertos, quartets, etc, and you can imagine how much, while playing them, I shared the emotion of he who was listening. Once he had recovered from the initial shock, the cantata was given a second time, then our dear Viotti, seeing himself in the midst of his children and his friends [about thirty persons in addition to the musicians], 182 did not refuse to take his (p. 313 ) violin and we played a superb manuscript concerto in E minor. How could he not have played it with divine fire? His soul was vibrating in response to ours. 183
The day before this fête, Viotti wrote to Felice Radicati (1775–1820), a Torinese violinist‐composer, and pupil of Pugnani's, whom Viotti had met when Radicati came to England in 1810 with his wife, the soprano Teresa Bertinotti‐Radicati. On 1 April 1811 Viotti attended a concert in which Mori played a “MS concerto” by Radicati. 186 By 1814 the Radicatis had returned to Italy, settling in Bologna. To judge from this letter, Viotti and “cher et bon” Radicati had become close friends. Viotti regrets having received Radicati's letter a whole year late—“poste restante truly restante.” He seems to have taken Radicati into his confidence regarding his failing wine business: “I thank you a thousand times for all the trouble you have taken on my behalf. I have written to Turin as a result of what you sent me on the subject of my unfortunate affairs.” This is difficult to interpret. Perhaps Radicati had told Viotti of some opportunity in Turin, or of someone in Turin who could be useful. Viotti continues with some revealing observations on musical tastes in Paris:
Viotti's assertion about the market for string quartets in Paris does not ring entirely true, since Janet and Cotelle had published his last set of three, dedicated to André Viotti, only a year earlier. On the other hand, his low opinion of Parisian tastes was shared by Ludwig Spohr, who visited Paris in 1820–21 (“here you seldom hear a serious piece, nothing but airs varies, rondos favoris, nocturnes, and the like trifles”), 189 and by Sophie Leo, who writes of the “deplorable state” of concerts at this time: “even the most capable artist dared not offer his unappreciative audience a quartet or quintet, much less an entire concerto with orchestral accompaniment, and in private circles where music was cultivated the display of ignorance and lack of taste was still more striking.” 190 Viotti's remark about the state of music in England shows that nothing has occurred in the Philharmonic Society to alter his gloomy opinion of that institution.
As for your charming quartets, last autumn I had them played to the best of my ability [ je les ai fait entendre de mon mieux; presumably Viotti means that he had played them himself ], and this year I am told that this type of music doesn't sell any more; that people in the societies want to hear only little fripperies [ petites betises] with piano accompaniment, and that they would be throwing away their money on them [et qu'on en serait pour les Fraix]. I was even told politely that it is the same with my own compositions. And so, my dear friend, I advise you to (p. 314 ) have them returned to you, to transform them into something else if you wish to sell them in Paris. They are all in the hands of Imbault, 187 who is ready to hand them over to whomever you wish.
As a year has passed since you wanted to have the collection of my concertos, I don't know if you are still of the same mind. I hesitate to have you make this purchase, but I have deposited them with Mr. Janet and he is ready to follow any instructions that you wish to give him.
I return to London the day after tomorrow—it is still a country in which music is going to the dogs, though there is the rage to make it everywhere. [ Viotti sends best wishes to “chere Madame Bertinotti” from Madame Chinnery, and asks his friend to “kiss her hands on the part of your compatriot.” By “compatriot,” he means not so much Italian as Torinese.] 188
While in Paris, Viotti was able to indulge his interest in the pedagogy of music. He visited a special music school in the Marais in which the monitorial system was used, that is, the brightest students were trained to instruct their fellow students in small groups. The Annales de la musique pour l'an 1819 reported this visit:
It is tempting to suppose that it was Madame de Genlis, and Margaret, who influenced Viotti to visit this school. The monitorial method bears a very close (p. 315 ) resemblance to Margaret's practice at Gillwell of having Caroline help in the musical instruction of Matilda and little Margaret.
Having closely observed the classroom exercises, charming to both eye and ear, he saw for himself that the success of such an establishment was due to the excellence of the method employed, and not to some transient fashionable fad for frivolous novelties that all too often appeal to idle minds. It is regrettable, he said, that such simple and ingenious methods were not applied earlier in the development of a charming art, the study of which has, in times gone by, wasted so many young people's time and caused them to turn away from music. 191
Having returned to London, Margaret continued to give music parties, the guests consisting in large part of members of the foreign diplomatic circle. In one of these, given on 8 January 1819, she reports that she had not invited many professors, that Lady Flint sang her own compositions accompanied by Begrez, and that Matilda played the piano accompanied by Robberechts. 192 In another,
Viotti's pupil, “Guinemer,” is Charles Guynemer, Baillot's brother‐in‐law and former pupil, who had gone to live in England in 1809 after his marriage, 195 and with whom Viotti had played chamber music at the home of General Dessolle in 1814. It would have been sometime after that occasion that he became Viotti's pupil, no doubt with the intercession of Baillot. Guynemer would play in the orchestra of the Philharmonic Society for the 1822 season, at the normal rank‐and‐file rate of “one Guinea and half per night, and half price the Rehearsal.” 196 He also played chamber music in four concerts of the Philharmonic Society in 1822. With Fémy and Robberechts, he brings to three the number of pupils Viotti received from Baillot.
we were rich in poets [Samuel Rogers, Thomas Moore, Henry Luttrell, and William Spencer]. The music, which was to be instrumental by agreement, was very fine—some Quintetts of Boccherini's—a Duett between Amico & Robberechts, a Trio by Amico. Amico played beautifully; he was accompanied by his pupil Guinemer, Col. West and Ashley. 193 He was quite delightful, & in high good humour all the evening. 194
Thomas Moore spent an evening at a Montagu Street concert around this time. On Tuesday, 8 June 1819, “we went in the evening to Mrs Chinnery's, where I heard Viotti, Ashley &c. play a beautiful Quintett of Boccherini's, full of sweet melody—the Demoiselles Lihu sung too.” 197 This would not seem to be the same concert as the all‐instrumental one described by Margaret, though very similar.
On his sixty‐fourth birthday, 12 May 1819, Viotti wrote to William Ayrton from Petersham, “at William Spencer Esqu.re.” He is “in ecstasy over the song of an entire flock of nightingales” and is enjoying his birthday doing nothing: “Viva, il bel far niente.” He suggests that since most of the subscribers to Cherubini's Requiem Mass are members of the Philharmonic Society, the directors be asked to have the composer send the scores in one package to the Argyll Rooms. Perhaps in this way the Customs will be “a little less greedy and less inexorable.” The subscribers can then pay each his share. 198
Despite appearances, Margaret's and particularly Viotti's financial position never seems to have been very strong. In January of 1819 Margaret tells William, who has asked for money, that “I am very low myself, dearest Chinnery, and I have a little to go on with, which with Amico's quarter, will I hope to go (p. 316 ) on hobblingly, somehow or other.” 199 Viotti, who was contributing a quarter of the household budget, was able to lend £20 to William. But from 1819 onwards, their need for more money is evident, in a crescendo of urgency, becoming desperate in 1822 and 1823, not long before Viotti's death. 200 Viotti still owed Margaret 24,000 francs, a very large sum, lent as a contribution to his investment in the wine business, a debt that he never managed to repay, as he laments in his last will and testament. The failure of the wine business was undoubtedly what drove Viotti to look for a new source of income. As early as January 1819 he and Margaret were casting their eyes toward France. In her letter of 4 January to William, Margaret analyzes the political situation in France, and its effect upon their fortunes: she approves of Elie Decazes, who has risen to power under Louis XVIII, and with whose cousin she is on friendly terms, and “M. Desolles is an old friend of Amico's you know,—so that upon the whole I do not think that we shall have lost ground at headquarters.” 201 The Marquis Dessolle, the former General Dessolle, has been made Minister for Foreign Affairs. Margaret has her eye on the recent changes in the French government (“headquarters”) not only with regard to the possible benefits for William and his business but also for Viotti. The time is ripe. Viotti, sixty‐four years old, decides to apply for the directorship of the Paris Opéra, the position he had coveted exactly thirty years earlier. 202
(1.) Teresa Bertinotti, soprano, became the prima donna seria at the King's Theatre in the 1810–11 season, and, notably, introduced Mozart's Così fan tutte (in the role of Fiordiligi) to London audiences at her benefit. She was married to the violinist‐composer Felice Radicati. Diomiro Tramezzani, a tenor, sang at the King's Theatre from 1809 to 1814. Both singers received generally excellent reviews from the London press and other commentators (Fenner 1994 , 335–36, 170–72).
(2.) Francesco Vaccari, according to FétisB, was born in 1773, as a child prodigy impressed Pugnani, and at around the age of ten went to Florence to study with Nardini. The rest of Fétis's account is not completely accurate. Vaccari was in the service of the king of Spain from 1796 to 1806 (Labrador 2005 , 90). He participated both as a violinist and as a violist in the Philharmonic Society concerts in London from 1813 to 1815, including a performance, as second violinist to Viotti, of a quartet by Viotti (17 May 1813), and thrice acting as leader (14 March 1814, 17 April, and 29 May 1815). According to Fétis, who does not mention the English sojourn, Vaccari returned to Lisbon and Madrid in 1815. However, Viotti refers to his presence in England in March 1816 (see below, p. 303).
(3.) GBV to WBC, 5 August 1812, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/8.
(7.) GBV to WBC, 23 June 1812, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/7.
(8.) GBV to WBC, 14 August 1812, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/9. About a year and a half later, Viotti implied that the Amati cello had at some point been given to John Crosdill. In a rather alarming outburst, Viotti raged against the celebrated cellist, to whom, more than a decade earlier, he had dedicated a set of cello duets (WIV:37–42), “as a tribute to his extraordinary talent, by a sincere friend.” Crosdill had been back from his “blasted country place for more than two months, and he has never deigned to come by to see if we are dead or alive. […] What a pity that you made this cello over to him. I am sure that the rascal will not keep his promise, and that he will die without bequeathing it to you or your son” (GBV to WBC, 14 February 1814, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/1).
(9.) She appeared at the King's Theatre only in the 1802–3 season.
(10.) GBV to WBC, 14 August 1812, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/9.
(11.) WII:16–18 (three quartets for flute/violin, violin, viola and violoncello, ca. 1801–6). Philip Cipriani, the son of the artist G. B. Cipriani (and nephew of Lorenzo Angelo Cipriani, a buffo singer at the King's Theatre, where he sang in Soler's L'isola del piacere in 1795), was a colleague of William Chinnery at the Treasury (a senior clerk 1787–1807 and a chief clerk 1807–20). He was a good friend of the Chinnerys and Viotti.
(13.) Christopher Schram had been one of the featured cello soloists, along with Lindley, in the Opera Concert in 1795, and cellist in the King's Theatre orchestra for the 1795–96 and 1796–97 seasons. He participated in the Chinnery music parties. His brother, S. Schram, was a violinist (Highfill, Burnim, and Langhans 1973–93 , 13:232).
(14.) GBV to WBC, 14 August 1812, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/9.
(16.) Cited in MC to WBC, [January 1813], AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/4. Lacepede was one of the members, along with Ginguené, of the three‐man committee to which Bianchi's treatise had been sent for inspection.
(17.) F‐Pan L2731030. On 24 August 1820 André was named an Officer of the Legion of Honor. On 15 November 1815 he became a naturalized French citizen (F‐Pan BB/11/108/1).
(18.) In any case, after 5 August 1812, the date of the former Gillwell tutor Herr Trumpf's letter to Viotti, reporting on his search for a house in London for the Gillwell residents (AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–28/18).
(19.) This was not the same Charles Street, near Middlesex Hospital, where Viotti had lived in 1794, and it, too, no longer exists. It was the eastern extension of George Street, north of Manchester Square.
(20.) MC to WBC, 10 October 1813, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/16.
(22.) AF to GBV, ca. March–May 1813, GB‐Lcm Viotti Papers.
(23.) Another Associate was “C. Smith, bass‐singer,” who sang in vocal ensembles in many of the Society's concerts from 1813 to 1816. It is possible that he was the Charles Smith who was Viotti's business partner.
(24.) GBV and MC to “My dear Friend,” 20 January 1813, National Library of Congress, Washington, Rosaleen Moldenhauer Collection, Box 13. Cited in Rowland 2006 , 383–84, where, however, Margaret's portion of the letter is attributed to Clementi.
(25.) “Particulars of a Freehold Estate called Gillwell House in Essex; and a Freehold Warehouse in Vine Street Middlesex,” printed by Luke Hansard & Sons, near Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, 1813, AUS‐Sphm 94/13/1–11/20 and 21.
(26.) Denise Yim suggested this latter possibility in a private communication. On 27 January 1815 Margaret was finally paid £2,050 (GB‐Lna T1 3535/72), “the agreed value of her life interest and right of Dower in the real Estate of her husband.” Statement of the solicitor H. C. Litchfield, 3 March 1815. GB‐Lna T1 3535.
(27.) The choice of pieces for the progams was jointly decided by the directors, but surely the leader's opinion weighed heavily in each case. Foster 1912 , 10, is presumably correct in giving Luigi Cherubini, rather than Johann Vogel, as the composer of the Démophone overture.
(29.) MC to WBC, [17 May 1813], AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/55.
(31.) Cimador's concert: Temperly 1960 , 208. Also in the program were six vocal works of Mozart, an overture by Winter, a harp concerto by Dussek, and a violin concerto by Janiewicz, presumably played by the composer. Janiewicz's concerts: McVeigh 2006 , 108.
(32.) GBV to Frederick William Collard, 24 March 1811, private collection. I am indebted to Clive Brown for making this letter available to me.
(34.) “Letter to the fifth Duke of Marlborough,” 21 April 1813, GB‐Lbl Add. Ms. 61677, f. 69 (Blenheim Papers).
(35.) MC to WBC, 18 July 1813, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/11. The “famous Menuet of Pugnani” (an exception to Viotti's usually playing his own pieces) has not been identified. However, Pugnani's Twelve Favourite Minuets in Three Parts, Compos'd for His Majesty the King of Denmark's Masquerade…for the Harpsichord, Violin, or Ger. Flute had been published in London (Welcker) in 1768. The polacca would have been one of Viotti's two popular polonaise‐finales of Concertos nos. 2 and 13. They had both been published in London in the 1790s as songs with piano accompaniment. The concerto played by Matilda was the arrangement by J. B. Cramer for piano and orchestra of Viotti's Violin Concerto no. 27, which indeed was new, having been announced only in 1813.
(36.) MC to WBC, 18 July 1813, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/11. It would appear that Lawrence had been invited to Caroline's funeral and had observed her features then. Lawrence was prone to revise his paintings (“scrapings out”), and left many of them unfinished. In June 1810, Margaret had reported that the brilliant miniature painter Richard Cosway (ca. 1742–1821), was painting Caroline (MC to GRC, 27 June 1810, GB‐Och). (However, it is a drawing that Margaret mentions in the present letter.) The present whereabouts of these portraits, if they were finished, and if they have survived, are unknown.
(37.) GBV to WBC, 27 January 1814, AUS‐Sphm 94/1437–14/16.
(39.) GBV to WBC, [ca. February 1814], AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/18.
(40.) Comte de Vaudreuil to MC, 7 March 1814, AUS‐Sfl 2000–4/11; Matilda Chinnery's journal, 6 and 7 April , AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–27.
(41.) Matilda Chinnery's journal, 30 March , 94/143/1–27.
(42.) Matilda Chinnery's journal, 6 April , 94/143/1–27.
(43.) The several arrangements in the British Library for various combinations of instruments all postdate 1814, but it seems likely that at least one was published in (p. 468 ) London by that year, in view of the frequency with which Cherubini's works were programmed by the Philharmonic Society at the time.
(44.) Matilda Chinnery's journal, 6 April , 94/143/1–27.
(46.) Mme de Staël to GBV, 28 June 1813, US‐NYp JOB 97–52, item 29.
(47.) GBV to WBC, 28 June 1813, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/14.
(49.) MC to WBC, 18 August 1813, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/13.
(50.) MC to WBC, 25 August 1813, 94/143/1–17/14.
(51.) MC to WBC, 11 September 1813, 94/143/1–17/15.
(52.) Albertine de Staël, 3 October , US‐NYp JOB 97–52, item 32.
(53.) Mme de Staël to GBV, ca. 1814, US‐NYp JOB 97–52, item 69.
(54.) In two (undated) letters in the spring of 1814 she badgers Viotti for tickets. US‐NYp JOB 97‐52, items 34, 35.
(55.) Morning Chronicle, 15 February 1814.
(57.) GBV to WBC, 19 July 1813, US‐NYp JOB 97–52, item 30.
(58.) GBV to WBC, ca. February 1814, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/18.
(60.) The (printed) Abstract: GB‐Lbl Add. Ms. 41771 (Smart Papers), ff. 6–7. Clementi and Viotti's note: Add. Ms. 41771, f. 11, undated.
(62.) GBV to Ayrton, 2 July 1813, GB‐Lbl Add. Ms. 52337 (Ayrton Collection), f. 8.
(63.) MC, “Observations upon Mr. A's Plan,” ca. July 1813, AUS‐Sfl 2000–16.
(64.) In fact, the restrictions were gradually relaxed. In 1816 vocal solos and duets were admitted, and Baillot performed a Concertante for violin.
(66.) GB‐Lbl Add. Ms. 41771, f. 12.
(67.) GBV to Ayrton, 25 or 28 July 1813, GB‐Lbl Add. Ms. 52337, f. 9.
(68.) GBV to Ayrton, 10 November 1813, GB‐Lbl Add. Ms. 52337, f. 11.
(69.) Margaret reported that the duke had “asked after Amico and the Royal Academy of Music, respecting which […] he observed that with such talents as Viotti's at the head of it, an establishment of that sort must be highly advantageous” (MC to WBC, 14 August 1813, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/12).
(71.) GBV to Ayrton, 23 November 1813, GB‐Lbl Add. Ms. 52337, f. 12.
(72.) GB‐Lbl RPS/Ms./275, 20 February 1815; see below, p. 297.
(74.) Robert Lindley, one of the most popular cellists of the time.
(76.) Matilda's journal, 25 March , AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–27.
(77.) Matilda's journal, 28 March , AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–27. Matilda's journal, 27 and 28 March , AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–27. Poor Viotti! One sympathizes with (p. 469 ) his not wishing to attend a dinner the night before an important concert. It was the unnecessarily complicated excuse of having to leave the table at dessert, which, it seems, enabled Mme de Staël to force his hand. But when he stayed until 10 o'clock, she would have realized that there was no rehearsal.
(78.) At the time Edmund Kean was playing his most celebrated role, Richard III in Shakespeare's play, at Drury Lane.
(79.) Matilda's journal, Wednesday, 31 (recte 30) March .
(81.) Morning Chronicle, 1 April 1814.
(82.) GBV to Ayrton, 2 April 1814, GB‐Lbl Add. Ms. 52337, f. 15.
(83.) GB‐Lbl RPS/Ms./275, ff. 18–19.
(84.) GBV to Baillot, 12 July 1814, previously in the private collection of M. Pincherle, cited in Pincherle 1924 , 105–6. Its present location is unknown, as is the case with the other seven letters quoted in Pincherle's article. Fémy's name is mistranscribed as “Remy” by Pincherle. According to FétisB, 3:205, Fémy “the elder” was born in Ghent in 1790 and studied with Rodolphe Kreutzer, obtaining a first prize in violin at the Paris Conservatoire in 1807.
(85.) Bernhard Romberg to an unidentified friend (in German), ca. May 1814, Catalogue de la Collection d'autographs de Musiciens formée par feu M. Egidio Francesco Succi de Bologna, 6 May 1889, and following days, Berlin, Leo Liepmannssohn, p. 50, item 764, resumé.
(87.) Times, 25 June 1814.
(90.) GBV to WBC, 14 April 1814, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/20.
(91.) GBV to WBC, 25 April 1814, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/21.
(92.) GBV to Mme Cherubini, ca. April 1814. F‐Pn (Musique), Lettres autographs: G. B. Viotti, item 1.
(93.) GBV to WBC, 25 April 1814, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/21.
(94.) Friedrich Kalkbrenner (1785–1849), who had been so warmly recommended to Viotti by Dussek, was now living in London.
(97.) Baillot to Montbeillard, 9 November 1814, cited in François‐Sappey 1978 , 184. We learn from Baillot's words that the arrangement of Concerto no. 19 for string quartet, published about two years later, was not “probably” made by Viotti himself (White 1973 , 120), but certainly.
(98.) Pierre Rode, who had been Viotti's favored chamber music partner in 1802, had not lived in France for years, and was now settled in Berlin.
(102.) [Jean‐Louis] Duport, Paris, to “Monsieur Hollander [unidentified], chez mons John Power et compagnie [the music publisher], London Street nr 19, London,” 13 (p. 470 ) July 1814: Duport has arranged for Tourte to make a violin bow for Hollander, and has received a reply from Viotti saying that he was delighted to meet Hollander (F‐Pn [Musique], L. a. Duport).
(104.) Brifaut 1921 , 1:146. Charles Brifaut (1781–1857), man of letters, was friendly with the Abbé Morellet and with Mme de La Briche, and was to be the colibrettist for Spontini's Olympie, all of which would have brought him into contact with Viotti. In the quoted passage, he almost certainly is referring to the years 1814 and 1815.
(106.) On 8 December, Marie‐Amélie de Bourbon attended a reception for the Duke of Wellington given at the Palais Royal by her husband, Louis Philippe d'Orléans. After dinner, for a company of sixty persons, “Mme Camporese, an excellent amateur, sang marvellously, accompanied by [Ferdinando] Paër and by Libon, a very good violinist” (Marie‐Amélie 1980 , 207).
(107.) GBV and MC to Cécile Cherubini, 29 September 1814. F‐Pn (Musique), G. B. Viotti, item 5.
(108.) J[ean] A[ndrè] Viotti to GBV, 9 April 1803, US‐NYp JOB 97‐52, item 8.
(109.) GBV to Ayrton, 1 October 1814, Gb‐Lbl Add. Ms. 52337, f. 20.
(113.) Letter, GBV to the Philharmonic Society, 20 February 1815, GB‐Lbl RPS/Ms./275.
(114.) Cherubini to Baillot, 21 February 1815, cited in Della Croce 1986
(115.) Luigi Cherubini to Cécile Cherubini, 22 March 1815, cited in Della Croce 1986, 2:95.
(120.) GB‐Lbl RPS/Ms./275, 1 June 1815.
(121.) RPS/Ms./275, 14, 21 June 1815.
(123.) GB‐Lbl RPS/Ms./275, 27 September 1815.
(124.) Samuel Wesley to Alfred Pettet, 29 September , GB‐Lbl Egerton 2159 , f. 74. Samuel was the son of Charles Wesley, the hymn writer, and the nephew of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.
(125.) GBV to W. Watts, 3 January 1816. This description and the quoted excerpts from a Christie, Manson, and Woods auction catalogue, 16 October 1985. The letter is presumably now in a private collection.
(126.) GBV to Ayrton, 29 January 1816, GB‐Lbl Add. Ms. 52337, f. 24. In the meantime the Professional Society announced its first concert for 5 February 1816. The orchestra list on the printed program included the names of A. Betts, Bridgetower, Rosquellas, Vaccari, R. G. Ashley, Crouch, Lindley, and Dragonetti. GB‐Lbl Add. Ms. 41771, f. 23.
(127.) GB‐Lbl RPS/Ms./275, 17 June 1816; 6 and 13 February 1817.
(128.) MC to WBC, 14 May 1815, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/24.
(130.) Cherubini to Cécile Cherubini, 5 June 1815, cited in Della Croce 1986, 2:104–5. I have not seen the original letter in F‐Pn. It is possible that “le mari de l'amico” is a mistranscription of “le mari de l'amica” (Margaret was sometimes called “amica” by her friends), in which case there is no venom.
(131.) GBV to WBC, 16 July 1815, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/25.
(132.) Taken from an anecdote in the Musical World of 15 August 1839, in which J. Betts foists a fake Stradivari violin on Viotti, who (according to the anecdote) had tried the same trick on an aristocratic pupil. It must be admitted that the present letter, if my interpretation is correct, tends to confirm this anecdote (in which Arthur Betts is wrongly identified as John's son). Hill 1902/ 1963 , 260, also states that A. Betts was a pupil of Viotti's.
(134.) Jean‐Louis Duport to GBV, [September–November 1815], AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–28/1.
(135.) AF to GBV, 6 October 1815, GB‐Lcm Viotti Papers.
(137.) GB‐Lbl RPS/Ms./367, f. 33.
(139.) Matilda Chinnery to WBC, in GBV to WBC, 12 February 1816, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/27. It is in this letter that Viotti thanks William for having sent his “old baton,” about which we have earlier speculated.
(141.) GBV to WBC, 7 March 1816, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/30.
(144.) The Spencer family home at Wheatfield, where John Spencer had previously lived, had burned down in 1814. Petersham, at the western edge of Richmond Park, now engulfed by Greater London, was then in the country. Viotti, Margaret, Cherubini, and other guests had twice visited Petersham in 1815.
(145.) The French expression “paniers percés” (leaky buckets) is more vivid.
(147.) Fernando Sor (1778–1839), Spanish guitarist and composer, who had been living in London since 1809. He played a Concertante for guitar and strings in the third concert, 24 March, of the 1817 season of the Philharmonic Society.
(149.) GBV to WBC, postmarked 22 March , AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–14/31.
(150.) MC to WBC, 4 July 1816, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/25.
(151.) Elisabeth Vigée‐Lebrun to MC, 7 July 1816, AUS‐Sfl 2000–8/2.
(152.) AF to GBV, 21 October 1816, GB‐Lcm 4118, Viotti Papers, f. 36r.
(154.) MC to an unidentified recipient, copy, 25 April 1812, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–9.
(155.) I am indebted to Denise Yim for pointing out this possibility.
(156.) MC to WBC, 8 July 1816, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/26.
(157.) MC to WBC, 16 March 1817 and 24 May 1817, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/29 and 17/30, respectively.
(158.) According to NG2, 19:890, Robberechts was a pupil of the Belgian violinist Corneille van der Plancken (1772–1849), and Plancken “was admired by Viotti, who also became his close friend.” I have been unable to find corroboration for these assertions.
(159.) GBV to André Robberechts, 10 April 1817 (copy, in neither Viotti's nor Robberecht's hand), F‐Pn (Musique), Lettres autographs, suppl. 16.
(160.) GB‐Lbl RPS/Ms./279, 10 January 1819.
(161.) RPS/Ms./367, f. 32.
(162.) RPS/Ms./279, 8 February 1818. On 7 February 1819 the Directors resolved to request a symphony from Fémy for the next Trial Night.
(163.) Announcements in the Times: 1 June 1815, 1 March 1822, 1 May 1819, 30 March 1824; Theatre Royal, Covent Garden programs: 8, 13, 27 March 1822 (GB‐Lbl, 1494.g.11).
(164.) MC to WBC, 20 February 1817, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/28.
(165.) MC to William Ayrton, 1 January 1817, GB‐Lbl Add. Ms. 52342, f. 72.
(166.) AF to GBV, 7 July 1817, GB‐Lcm Viotti Papers.
(169.) GB‐Lbl RPS/Ms./279, 11, 18, and 25 January 1818.
(170.) MC to WBC, 26 May 1818, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/33. With regard to the Bohrer brothers, Margaret meant that they were about to leave England to take up positions at the Prussian court. Regarding Lady Flint, Gronow 1892 (who is unreliable regarding music and musicians), 1:267, asserts that Viotti and “Jarnowickz” (Giornovichi) “accompanied” Dussek and [J. B.] Cramer at her Sunday house concerts in Birdcage Walk, giving no further details, and concocting an anecdote about Giornovichi playing “a concerto by Beethoven.” There are at least two references in the Chinnery Papers to Viotti frequenting Lady Flint: on Sunday, 16 March 1817 he, Matilda, and George “are gone to a grand soirée at Lady Flint's tonight” (MC to WBC, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/29); and on the evening of 10 June 1818 he went with Margaret and Mme de Montgéroult (after having dined with the Duke of Cambridge—see p. 309) (MC to WBC, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/34). It seems likely that on the first occasion he would have played, probably with Matilda. On the second, Margaret reported that the music was “so‐so,” though she may have been excepting Amico. (Did he play with Mme de Montgéroult?)
(171.) AF to MC, 7 August 1816, GB‐Lcm Viotti Papers.
(172.) MC to WBC, 11 June 1818, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/34.
(173.) MC to WBC, 15 June 1818, 94/14371–17/35.
(174.) MC to WBC, 22 June 1818, 94/143/1–17/36.
(175.) MC to WBC, 27 June 1818, 94/143/1–17/37.
(177.) Hélène de Montgéroult to MC, 30 March 1819, AUS‐Sfl 2000–4/18.
(179.) NG2, 22:172.
(180.) GB‐Lbl Add. Ms. 27593, f. 109.
(181.) François Habeneck (1781–1849), violinist, conductor, composer, and a pupil of Baillot's at the Conservatoire, where he won a premier prix for violin in 1804. From 1806 to 1815 he had conducted the public concerts of the Conservatoire orchestra, in which he introduced Beethoven's symphonies to Paris.
(186.) MC to GRC, [25 March 1811], GB‐Och; Times, 1 April 1811. In the 1810–11 season at the King's Theatre, Teresa Bertinotti‐Radicati had sung in her husband's opera, Phaedra, which was not a success.
(187.) Jean‐Jérôme Imbault had played in the Imperial Chapel beginning in 1810. He published works by Viotti for the last time in about 1808, and in 1812 he sold his firm to Janet and Cotelle. Though he is never mentioned in the Viotti‐Chinnery correspondence, this reference shows that in 1818 he and Viotti were still in touch.
Radicati had published a set of three string quartets dedicated to Viotti (op. 14, Artaria, ), of which a copy was owned by Haydn (see Elssler's Catalogue of Haydn's Music Library [Landon 1977, 5:309]); whether they are the same as those mentioned in the present letter has not been ascertained. We note in passing that Haydn appears not to have owned any music by Viotti.
(188.) GBV to Felice Radicati, 24 October 1818, Bologna, R. Accademia Filarmonica, Archivio‐Biblioteca, Fondo Masseangeli.
(192.) MC to WBC, 8 January 1819, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/40. Pierre Begrez (1787–1863) was a French tenor who sang at the King's Theatre 1816–19, and in the Philharmonic concerts for several years, beginning in 1816.
(193.) Margaret does not specify whether Ashley was Charles Jane, cellist, or his brother, Richard, violist, both of whom played in the Philharmonic orchestra. Assuming that the Boccherini quintets were of the two‐cello variety, then either Robberechts or Guynemer played the viola, and Colonel West and C. J. Ashley played the two cello parts. If they were two‐viola quintets, then either Robberechts or Guynemer and Richard Ashley played the two viola parts, and Colonel West played the cello part.
(194.) MC to WBC, ca. spring–summer 1819, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/56 (incomplete).
(196.) GB‐Lbl RPS/Ms./279, 10 February 1822.
(198.) GBV to Ayrton, 12 May 1819, GB‐Lbl Add. Ms. 52337, f. 25.
(199.) MC to WBC, 19 January 1819, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/43.
(201.) MC to WBC, 4 January 1819, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–39.
(202.) Yim 2004 , 220, suggests that Viotti may have begun negotiating for this position as early as his 1818 Paris sojourn or shortly after. Already in January 1819 Margaret Chinnery had sent her belongings to Paris in preparation for making France her principal residence (MC to WBC, 21 January 1819, AUS‐Sphm 94/143/1–17/44).